Coast to Coast Seminar Series


The Coast to Coast Seminar is an hour-long presentation given on a scientific topic and made accessible to audiences at a number of remote sites through collaboration technology. C2C seminars are held every two weeks throughout the academic year alternating between the West Coast and the East Coast of Canada.

The topic of the Spring 2014 C2C seminar series is "Technology for Aging Well". The focus of the series will be a discussion how to use technology in helping support the Canadian aging population to ensure that all Canadians can grow older with dignity and grace.

This seminar series it is built around a pan-Canadian project titled AGE-WELL (Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life.) One of the goals of AGE-WELL is to address socio-economic, ethical, and regulatory challenges related to the development and commercialization of technologies for aging. This includes generating new knowledge about the technology needs of older adults and their caregivers and creating and producing high-quality and sustainable health care solutions for older Canadians.

 Please contact us at if you want to attend one of these seminars.

The first lecture in the series will be broadcast on January 14, 2014

Details can be found at 


Jan14, 2014 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Coast to Coast Seminar Series - Understanding the end-user and their needs

Arlene Astell & Uwe Glässer


Working in partnership with end-users is the key to developing successful interventions for any population. With an ageing population it is particularly important to understand how people make decisions about purchase and adoption of novel technologies and the key factors that influence these decisions. In this C2C seminar we will discuss techniques developed to encourage seniors to share their views about novel technologies and how their needs influence their decision-making.

We will also explore examples of how user needs can be modelled to improve understanding of accessibility and scalability. In collaboration with users, caregivers, industry partners and other stakeholder groups, we will devise a reference model specifying the principal user requirements and needs in terms of a service model to be defined in abstract computational terms. This service model is intended as the starting point for building a flexibly extensible framework for developing an ensemble of software services utilizing cloud computing and distributed communication networks.

About the Speakers

Arlene Astell is inaugural Ontario Shores Research Chair in Community Management of Dementia and Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. She is also Professor of Health Services Research in the Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare at the University of Sheffield, UK. Arlene’s research is concerned with developing and evaluating novel interventions to support people to live and age well, including creative applications of technology to early detection of change, maximizing spared abilities and minimizing impaired ones, and training caregivers about the impact of cognitive impairment on communication and relationships. Her work is highly cross-disciplinary and collaborative with embedded stakeholder participation informing all stages of the research and dissemination.

Uwe Glässser is Professor of Computing Science and Associate Dean of Applied Sciences at Simon Fraser University. Prior to his current appointment, he held academic positions at University of Paderborn, Germany, worked for the International Telecommunication Union, Geneva, and Microsoft Research, Redmond, WA. His work concentrates on applied computer science, spanning industrial applications of formal methods, software technology for intelligent systems, and computational criminology and security informatics. More recent work focuses on modeling of complex social systems: ambient assistive living, computer models in the study of crime and criminal network analysis.

Jan 28, 2014 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Coast to Coast Seminar Series - Aging in a technological world or technology in an aging world ?

School of Public Policy, University of Nothampton

Faculty of Health Sciences, SFU
Pfizer/Heart and Stroke Foundation Chair in Cardiovascular Prevention Research, St. Paul's Hospital


Dr. Sixsmith will talk about the the Smart Distress Monitor (SDM) project. The aim of this project is to develop an ambient passive real time infra-red technology to detect the activity/inactivity of older people in their home in order to raise alerts concerning developing health care needs. Challenging issues experienced within the project concerned the lack of connectedness between technological, academic and user-based domains of expertise, language and problem-focus. User requirements revealed in interviews, focus groups and workshops informed the system design indicating that a successful system should be controllable, reliable, aesthetically pleasing, reduce fear and enhance security. Laboratory and in home tests indicated that the system improved people’s sense of safety and security, could promote the home as a restorative environment and become constructive of personal and social identities. In general, the research indicates that the SDM can contribute to a broader system of technology aids which can help people live longer within their own homes if it is designed with older people rather than for them.

Dr. Lear will focus on the Canadian experience. Approximately 2 in 5 Canadian adults have a chronic disease and this number nearly doubles in people over 65 years. With the ageing population and the coincident increases in chronic disease, there have been numerous calls for the 'transformation of health care' as our current model is likely to be unsustainable in the future. The use of technology in health care has been touted as a necessity in this transformation. However, despite the ubiquitous nature of a variety of low cost technologies (home computers/Internet, mobile phones, plain old telephone), the uptake into mainstream health care has been slow. The British Columbia Alliance on Telehealth Policy and Research ( has been working on a number models of care using low cost technology to support patient self-management and transitions of care. These current and proposed models have been designed to align with current health care practices and have the promise of ready uptake.

About the Speakers

Judith Sixsmith is a Professor in the School of Public Policy at the University og Northampton. She has been actively involved in research since 1984. She has directed several research projects including those funded by the European Commission, the British Broadcasting Corporation and the UK Health Development Agency. Her research experience is broadly based in social care and health policy in which she specialized in qualitative methodologies using multi-methods approaches. In particular an interest in the relationship between health, identity and home has featured in several of the projects. Moreover, a commitment to understanding the social-psychological and cultural context of everyday life has culminated in several projects which explore concepts of community and family life. More recently, Judith's work has developed in terms of revealing the meaning of age and gender in the context of health and social care, particularly concerning successful ageing among older people, men and masculinities and issues of participation and empowerment. Judith is also Professor of Adult Social Care at Manchester Metropolitan University. In November 2011, she became Professor of Public Health Improvement and Implementation in the School of Health at the University of Northampton.

Dr. Scott Lear is a Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University and the inaugural Pfizer/Heart and Stroke Foundation Chair in Cardiovascular Prevention Research at St. Paul's Hospital. Dr. Lear is also the Director of Community Health Solutions ( CHS engages with community partners to learn, develop, and apply novel and sustainable approaches, programs, and policies to enhance chronic disease prevention and management to support healthy individuals and communities. Under the CHS, Dr. Lear’s research spans the breadth of prevention of chronic diseases at a population level to the management of chronic diseases at an individual level. He also leads the British Columbia Alliance for Telehealth Policy and Research (, a team of university-based researchers and health authority decision-makers to develop, evaluate and implement Internet-based solutions for chronic disease management. To date, a 'virtual' cardiac rehabilitation program and a 'virtual' heart failure clinic have been successfully evaluated and the team is currently evaluating solutions for patients with multiple chronic diseases. Together this research will identify solutions that can be readily implemented into practice for the management of chronic diseases.

Coast to Coast Seminar Series - Promoting social Connectedness Among Older Adults (CONNECT)

Dr. Ron Baecker and Dr. Ben Mortenson


Social interaction and support are consistently identified as key aspects of older adults' quality of life. Lack of communication has been shown to lead to isolation/loneliness, which can result in problems such as depression and cognitive decline for older adults. Declining social capacities are linked with declines in physical, cognitive and emotional functions and their associated implications for disease, dependence, and poorer life quality. Researchers have begun to show that social interaction technologies offer both cognitive stimulation and social connection. The limits of current research and commercial products provide a compelling argument to find a way to reach seniors by increasing their social connectedness, reducing their isolation, loneliness and depression and improving their cognitive functioning and overall health. In this presentation, we will outline three areas in which new communication technologies and associated activities can promote social connectedness among older adults. These consist of (1) new communication tools - InTouch, Second Life, Facebook; (2) collaborating and playing - digital social games, collaborative webquests; and (3) knowledge building and sharing - digital storytelling (life histories; family histories), collaborative online information seeking, reading and writing. We also will provide several examples of research to be conducted around these areas.

About the Speakers

Dr. Baecker is Director of the Technologies for Aging Gracefully Laboratory (TAGlab), Professor of Computer Science, and emeritus Bell Universities Laboratories Chair in Human-Computer Interaction. He is also Affiliate Scientist with the Kunin-Lunenfeld Applied Research Unit of Baycret, Adjunct Scientist with the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, and founder of both the Dynamic Graphics Project and the Knowledge Media Design Institute at the University of Toronto. He has been named one of the 60 Pioneers of Computer Graphics by ACM SIGGRAPH, has been elected to the CHI (Computers and Human Interaction) Academy by ACM SIGCHI, has been given the Canadian Human Computer Communications Society Achievement Award, has been elected an ACM Fellow, and has been given the GRAND NCE Canadian Digital Media Pioneer Award. His B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D. are from M.I.T. Professor Baecker is an active researcher, lecturer, and consultant on human-computer interaction and user interface design, digital media, computer-supported cooperative work and learning, the Internet, entrepreneurship and strategic planning in the software industry, assistive technology, and technology for seniors. He has published over 300 papers and articles and four books on topics in these areas.

Dr. Ben Mortenson is Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, UBC. Dr. Mortenson's research focuses on four overlapping areas: assistive technology, social participation, caregiving and outcome measurement. His work is centered on four main populations: assistive technology users, informal and formal caregivers, individuals with spinal cord injury and residents in long-term care. Dr. Mortenson is currently an instructor with the UBC Master of Occupational Therapy Program. Dr. Mortenson is a member of the Canadian Association on Gerontology, the Canadian Society of Occupational Scientists, and the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists.

Mar 11, 2014 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Coast to Coast Seminar Series - Research to Innovation

Dr. Andrew Sixsmith and Ms. Rowena Rizzotti


The ageing of the population presents many challenges, not least how services can be improved in order to enhance the health and quality of life of older people in the context of limited financial resources. In this context, information and communication technologies (ICTs) have a huge potential to improve services and enhance the well-being and social participation of older people. ICTs for older people have emerged as a major component of R&D programmes worldwide.  While technical challenges remain important, future research must focus on innovation as the key goal and respond to respond to a number of non-technical factors if the benefits of ICTs are to be realised. Most research in the area has had a ‘technology-push’ approach that has typically failed to appreciate the significant challenges to creating viable service processes and business models that include technological innovation. Making technology solutions a reality in terms of real-world products and services requires addressing these challenges in a way that creates positive outcomes for all the stakeholders involved. Indeed, our ideas of knowledge translation must go beyond the typical end-of-project dissemination approach to one that includes stakeholder participation and business modelling as fundamental to the whole R&D cycle, so that technologies are congruent with the real-world opportunities and constraints.

About the Speakers

Dr. Andrew Sixsmith has been Professor and Director of the Gerontology Research Centre at Simon Fraser University since 2007. Dr. Sixsmith is an executive board member of the International Society of Gerontechnology and was Chair of the 7th World Conference of the Society in 2010. His research interests include development of technologies for independent living, modeling well-being of seniors, long-term care and theory and methods in gerontology.  He has attracted funding for many prestigious research projects from the European Commission and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Department of Health and Department of Industry in the UK and CIHR in Canada. Dr. Sixsmith has substantial teaching experience within gerontology and has been responsible for innovatory educational initiatives in the area of technology and aging. 


Ms. Rowena Rizzotti is a highly successful health care leader with over twenty five years experience in both the private and public sectors. A recognized leader in large scale change management processes including Innovation and quality improvement initiatives, Rowena has a significant senior-level experience in multi-site, complex business environments with a very strong understanding of clinical operations and a passion to bring research and evidence into all planning and health care service delivery.

Mar 25, 2014 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Coast to Coast Seminar Series - Sensor Technologies for Managing Disease and Disability

Dr. Rafik A. Goubran
Professor and Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Design, Carleton University

Dr. Frank Knoefel
Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, University of Ottawa


Technology has been proposed as part of the solution to the challenges of a population that is getting increasingly frail, but prefers to “age in place.” A number of different sensors and sensor types have been proposed to monitor health conditions and overall functioning of older adults in their homes. This C2C seminar will review a number of unobtrusive sensors that have been used in both laboratory and community settings. Our group has used a pressure sensitive mat that can distinguish between healthy and impaired transfers from bed. The same mat has also been used to monitor breathing at the end of life. Other sensors include ones as simple as magnetic switches on the fridge door and as complicated as electronic noses and microphone arrays. Ultimately, these technologies will be able to monitor older adults in their homes and detect changes that can lead to early intervention, thus preventing health or functional deterioration and more significant morbidity, and hence supporting “aging in place."

About the Speakers

Dr. Goubran's work focuses on Digital Signal Processing and its applications in audio processing and biomedical engineering. He has led many research projects in the areas of VoIP, sensors, noise and echo cancellation, microphone arrays, and the design of smart independent living environments for seniors. Dr Goubran has published over 170 journal and conference papers, and holds 10 patents in these areas. He is currently chair of the Council of Ontario Deans of Engineering and serving his second term as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Design at Carleton University.

Dr. Knoefel is a physician trained in care of the elderly with experience in geriatric rehabilitation and memory disorders. He is currently working at Ottawa’s Memory Clinic located at Bruyère Continuing Care. He holds appointments as Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine at the University of Ottawa and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Systems and Computer Engineering at Carleton University. He is also a Clinical Scientist at the Bruyère Research Institute, a University of Ottawa and Bruyère Continuing Care Partnership. Dr. Knoefel’s is co-lead of the TAFETA (Technology Assisted Friendly Environment for the Third Age, research program that is focussed on developing technologies to help older adults “age in place.” His current interests include using sensors for remote monitoring, memory training, cognitive impairment and driving. 

ADF Density-Functional Software

HPCVL offers access to the ADF computational chemistry package. This includes the Amsterdam Density Functional (ADF) code for molecular DFT, as well as the BAND solid-state software, and other components. The software runs on our main M9000 comp[ute cluster. To use this software, please type or include in your setup files the command:

use adf2012.01

Alternatively, you can type

use adf

and will be set up for the most current version. If you need to continue to use earlier versions, you can do so by typing

use adf2008.01 or
use adf2009.01 

Details about using ADF on our systems can be found in the FAQ file.

Please let us know if you encounter any problems with the new version or need assistance running ADF jobs.

System Changes after Storage Upgrades

Apart from a substantial increase in available disk space, some other alteration have been made to our systems:

  • The new default for MPI programs is now ClusterTools 8.1 instead of CT 7.1. This means that using mpirun and compiler macros such as mpif90 or mpicc will use CT8 now. If you need to stick with CT7, you need to issue a "use ct7" command to override the default. The use of CT6 with mprun and mpif90 etc. is not affected by this.
  • We have added the queues for our Enterprise M9000 cluster to the default Grid Engine queue pool, so that jobs that were submitted without additional specification will be either scheduled on the Sunfire 25K's or the Enterprise M9000 servers.

    Note, that if a specific cluster is desired (for instance, if you have compiled code specifically for the M9000 servers) it can be requested by inserting a line:

    #$ -l qname=x.q

    into the Grid Engine script, where x.q is 25k.q for the Sunfires and m9k.q is for the M9000's.

External Usage Stats

HPCVL provides resources to many researchers external to the four CFI applicant institutions. The graph below shows external usage of the CFI funded CPU cluster at the central site. The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI),the Ontario Innovation Trust (OIT), and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation have funded the resources at that site and the usage is represented as the percent of the usage of that equipment. Currently, 40 CPUs of the 1008 CPU cores Sun Fire cluster are set aside as workup and test resources and are not included in the percent usage of the cluster.

The total number of installed CPUs in the Sun Fire cluster is 1008 with the additional CPUs being funded through the Sun Microsystems. The total disk storage capacity is 160 TB of T3 StorEdge.

External CFI Usage

Comparing MPI and OpenMP

An interesting article comparing shared and distributed-memory approaches to parallel computing can be found here.

HPCVL strikes partnership with NAG

On November 16, 2002 HPCVL announced a partnership with the Numerical Algorithms Group. Please check here for the press release.