This year’s theme is “Hear The Beep When You Sleep. Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm!”.

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Study finds; as zip line popularity soars, so do injuries

By Lindsey Tanner

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

CHICAGO _ Injuries from zip line accidents have soared along with the popularity of an activity that hurtles riders through the air, sometimes at dizzying heights above ground, a study of U.S. emergency room data shows.

Over 16 years, nearly 17,000 people were treated for zip line-related injuries including broken bones, cuts and sprains; most occurred in the last four years of the 1997-2012 study. It’s the first national look at zip line injuries and highlights a need for better regulation and uniform safety standards, the researchers say.

The study was published Monday in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine. Deaths were not included _ there have been at least six nationwide this year, most from falls.

THE STUDY

The researchers analyzed a national injury database operated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Their study covers the early years of commercial zip lines, which now number more than 200 nationwide. There are thousands more “amateur” zip lines, located in backyards, summer camps and schools.

Most injuries occurred at commercial courses, camps and other non-residential places. About 30 per cent were from zip lines in backyards or farms. These are sometimes do-it-yourself kits bought online, may be improperly installed and should be avoided, the researchers said.

The annual injury rate for all zip lines climbed from almost 8 per 1 million U.S. residents in 2009 to nearly 12 per 1 million in 2012. Causes included falls, collisions and slamming into objects at the end of the course. Injuries were most common in children and teens.

Almost 12 per cent of injuries resulted in hospital stays, a worrisome rate much higher than more conventional sports, said co-author Tracy Mehan of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

STANDARDS & REGULATION

Industry groups have adopted voluntary safety standards typically involving equipment, maintenance and worker training, but they vary and are not uniformly followed. Insurance providers generally require operators to adhere to some of these standards, and several states have adopted safety regulations. But Mehan said a uniform set of safety standards and effective oversight is needed.

INDUSTRY RESPONSE

Industry representatives say the study is alarmist and that zip lines are safer than driving a car.

Mike Barker, vice-president of the Professional Ropes Course Association, said his group has strict safety standards that recommend that courses be routinely examined by independent inspectors. He said reasons for injuries and deaths include user or operator error and equipment malfunction.

James Borishade, executive director of the Association for Challenge Course Technology, said no activity is risk-free and that zip line operators “are working to minimize that risk.”

SAFETY TIPS

_Check the Better Business Bureau and online reviews to find a reputable operator

_Ask operators if they follow any industry safety standards and avoid those that don’t.

_Ask to see inspection or maintenance reports, and inquire about staff training.

_Always wear safety equipment provided including body harnesses, helmets and gloves.

_Don’t readjust harnesses after guides have secured them.

_Listen closely and follow guides’ instructions.

canada-press

 

Tackling the big issues with big data

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

It has been labeled as the biggest lie on the Internet, “I have read and agree to these terms and conditions.”

With every account users sign up for, every update to an app, or new software installed, the notification to accept the terms of a privacy agreement comes with it.

Do people read these usually lengthy and jargon filled agreements? Of course not.

However, that could change when Canadians start to realize just how much information they are giving out on a daily basis.

Dr. Jonathan Obar with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology specializes in the study of how these digital technologies impact our freedoms.

“I look at how they can empower us to promote civil liberties and I’m also interested in how they threaten civil liberties,” Obar says.

The reality is, the ever expanding world of “big data” poses newer and expanding opportunities, not all of them good, for how companies, known as data brokers,  can use your information.

Through data brokers, insurance companies can get information about your eating habits when assessing you for life insurance or perhaps police can get information on driving habits.

The data is out there, and Obar is searching for a solution.

In an interview with The Express, Obar explained his work, why big data is an increasing problem, and the search for a possible solution.

The problem

Some may ask why does this matter? Who cares if a grocery store is tracking purchases through a membership card? Some may say they’ve got nothing to hide.

“Perhaps you’re not familiar, or aware of what you might want to hide,” Obar says.

For decades, the privacy issue has used George Orwell’s narrative created in his novel 1984 as a comparator.

Simplified, the narrative is that Big Brother, or the government, is always watching and gathering information about us to use to their advantage.

However, Obar says this story is no longer relevant to the reality of the digital world today.

“Things are far more complicated now than George Orwell imagined when he was writing 1984,” Obar says.

Instead of one entity with all the information, the data is spread out in an unknown number of locations.

“If all the data was housed in one place, we would know where to look for it and if we wanted to affect change, we could target our efforts at one place, regulate that one entity,” he says. “The problem is that data is everywhere and not only that the data is everywhere, it’s being used in different ways everywhere.”

The regulations surrounding the gathering and sharing of information are shady at best with little specific requirements for how the information is gathered by companies or where it is shared, Obar says.

In a previous report, Obar and a colleague from the University of Toronto assessed 43 Canadian Internet service providers and found the majority of them tell very little about what they are doing with their customers’ information.

While this is the problem, one the Federal Trade Commission has tried to address and give “digital citizens” increased right to their information, Obar says the solution is far more complicated.

“If we all had access to the data, where would we begin?” he says. The sheer amount of data that exists about us could prove to be overwhelming.

The second problem exists in the form of how this data is used.

“All of this data is being used to generate profiles about people and how risky they are as investments,” Obar says.

For example, data brokers – companies whose sole focus is gathering information and shirking it to clients – can share your unhealthy eating habits with insurance companies.

One way of obtaining that is through the data gathered through the use of a membership card.

“The loyalty programs that these companies have are not about a dollar off milk, it’s about the data,” Obar says.

The solution

In a working paper, soon to be published in Big Data and Society, Obar says the self-management of all this data is impossible.

So Obar suggests that perhaps professionals will be created to deal with that very issue.

“Just like we hire an accountant to help interpret our financial data come tax time, perhaps eventually there will be, what I call, representative data managers,” he says.

This position would be someone who can monitor our data, check where it’s been sent, who is sending it and exactly what it’s being used for.

There’s another problem.

“The big issue is how do you generate demand for these services?” Obar says.

Aon brings innovative marine modelling to market for 1/1 reinsurance renewals

MONTE CARLO, 13 September 2015 – Aon Benfield, the global reinsurance intermediary and capital advisor of Aon plc (NYSE:AON), has invested in an innovative catastrophe model to help marine and energy insurers more accurately assess their cargo risks.

Catastrophe models are commonplace in the non-marine sector but the marine and energy insurance industry has often found it difficult to accurately manage exposures due to the non-static nature of the risks. To date, existing models have offered no differentiation by commodity type, cargo volume or storage configuration.  For example, contrasting cargo types such as rubber tyres and electronics could produce the same level of modelled losses.

Aon Benfield recognised the need for innovation and partnered with catastrophe model vendor RMS to develop a marine and energy catastrophe modelling solution. This new product is available from Aon Benfield, which has broker exclusivity, to offer insurers the ability to refine coverage and purchase more efficient reinsurance at forthcoming 1 January 2016 renewal.

The model comprises:

  • Some 85 cargo and specie vulnerability curves based on 18 commodity types – from pharmaceutical and petroleum to cars and fine art – and 12 storage options. The curves will refine damage estimations for cargo from the perils of US hurricane including surge, US earthquake, European windstorm and Asia typhoon.
  • Highly detailed industry exposure databases for major global ports, from Shanghai in China to Houston in the US. The databases take into account cargo classification, volume and time in port, based on industry data and research.

This innovative model enables marine and energy insurers and reinsurers to:

  1. More accurately assess cargo accumulations and loss potential from natural catastrophe events
  2. Improved pricing assumptions for marine risks, leading to more competitive product offerings
  3. Enhanced exposure management, accumulation control and claims reserving
  4. Increased reinsurance purchasing efficiency
  5. Standardisation of marine modelling for the whole industry including a uniform approach to storing marine data

Paul Miller, international head of Aon Benfield’s catastrophe management team, explained: “This project will drive industry standards for the modelling of marine business and help to revolutionise the way insurers manage their exposures. Aon Benfield has made a financial investment in this innovative new solution because we believe it will genuinely add value to our clients’ business and growth strategies.”

Aon Benfield’s partnership with RMS also involves future development plans including offshore energy updates, a new marine data schema and a port interconnectivity model.

About Aon

Aon plc (NYSE:AON) is a leading global provider of risk management, insurance brokerage and reinsurance brokerage, and human resources solutions and outsourcing services. Through its more than 69,000 colleagues worldwide, Aon unites to empower results for clients in over 120 countries via innovative risk and people solutions. For further information on our capabilities and to learn how we empower results for clients, please visit: http://aon.mediaroom.com/

Mitigate effects of market volatility

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What Condo Companies Can Do About Airbnb-Like Organizations

Article by Alan Rankine

Cheap, short-term rental accommodations through companies like Airbnb Inc. are popular for travelers and condominium owners, however they are not as appealing for condo corporations when they occur in their condo complexes. Short-term renters have less reason to be invested in the security, safety and comfort of the occupants residing in the complex or in the security of the property itself (see the CBC article “Airbnb Nightmare Renters Leave Calgary Home Trashed“).

Although Airbnb and similar short-term rental organizations are currently legal in all provinces, their future may be quite different. Quebec is looking to regulate and tax this business, as are several cities in the USA. The remainder of the Canadian provinces will likely follow.

Should this type of business become regulated, hosts may be required to obtain various permits or meet certain standards under local laws or bylaws. Condo corporations should carefully consider whether or not this will put them in breach of these laws, should the host fail to abide by all applicable laws.

The Downside for Condo Companies

In Alberta, the Condominium Property Act and the Court of Queen’s Bench do not support any bylaw, regulation, policy or rule which attempts to curtail, prevent or restrict a unit owner’s ability to lease their unit. Reconsideration of the court’s decision has been allowed. Should an appeal of this decision be successful, condo corporations may be permitted to curtail the leasing rights of unit owners.

What Condo Companies Can Do

Alberta courts have upheld bylaws which restrict a unit owner’s use of their unit or the common areas in the complex or both, such as bylaws which restrict the unit owner’s use of the unit to a “single family dwelling”. Although it is not uncommon for an owner to share their condo with friends, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench held that there is a difference between an owner allowing a few friends to stay in the unit as opposed to using the unit as a resort club, with a number of different families on a rotational basis.

Condo corporation bylaws may also disallow an owner from using their unit or the common area for a commercial venture. If the unit owner is advertising their unit online and frequently renting off Airbnb or like businesses, this activity may be classified as a commercial activity. The ABQB has held that resort clubs, hotel-like activity and timeshare-like activity in either the unit or common areas or both are, in essence, a commercial venture and will breach such a bylaw.

Condo corporations should enforce strict compliance with the bylaws by including a separate bylaw which requires strict compliance with all bylaws and prohibits waiver of bylaws by the condo corporation to ensure these bylaws will be upheld. Language in such bylaws and rules should be considered carefully and include the specific activities which will be prohibited.

Airbnb and similar companies are recent developments which have not yet been regulated in any provinces. Condo corporations who wish to keep this type of renting activity out of their complex may want to consider re-writing their bylaws, regulations, rules, or policies in a manner which effectively stops this activity.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Source: Mondaq

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