COVID-19 has forever changed our lives, but the world is finding ways to thrive in the face of adversity. Innovation ecosystems from around the world have come together to find solutions across not just our healthcare systems, but also our financial and social systems. These efforts have created better digital connections between organizations and their customers - families and their loved ones - but also accelerated the scientific communities ability to find a cure for the coronavirus.

And even though extraordinary sacrifices and measures have been made by many extraordinary people and institutions, the effects of this pandemic will continue to reverberate for years to come. COVID-19 is a window into future challenges and opportunities. And a reminder of how transient our current systems are - making this a natural moment in time to ask:

So where do we go from here?

At ATB, our Innovation Lab was born out of curiosity and constraints. As a lean team of 25, these constraints inspired creativity and forced us to really narrow our focus. Powerful new forces (like COVID) and technologies are paving the way for the next big wave of innovation - but fundamental problems like data privacy and sharing, AI safety, and untrustworthy identity management systems need to be solved to positively advance humankind’s well being - and hopefully prevent future pandemics.

While these challenges are larger than all of us, ATB’s Innovation Lab is already making progress and connections to broader ecosystems - near and afar - to help advance these opportunities. And at the heart of everything we do, is data.

Here are some highlights from the areas we are unleashing innovations and investments for the greater good:

Through our Open API platform, we are exploring how data scientists, innovators and developers can capture, connect, combine and share rich data and patterns - in a safe, secure, reliable way - to create new and unique product offerings that improve how people live their financial lives. Get inspired.

Open Data and Open AI: We believe that AI has the power to create smarter, more powerful services that are shaped by the collective intelligence and well-being of all. But unintended and harmful behaviours can result if AI systems are not governed to ensure intended objectives are met. Through Open Data and Open AI, we are exploring how to govern and integrate AI/ML models into innovations to deliver the most trusted customer experiences. Experience our Algorithm Tour here.

oID: Alberta’s Open Identity Initiative: At no other time in recent history have governments stood up to provide emergency benefits to so many people in such a short period of time: wage subsidies, health benefits, loans, and more. What do all these programs have in common? Identity. And the need for a fast, secure, reliable identity management system is only magnified in times of social distancing. Through oID - ATB’s Innovation Lab and a consortium of leading Alberta institutions are collaborating to transform the way we verify identity and handle data online. Today’s approach to identity needs to evolve. Physical identifiers are no longer valid in an increasingly digital world. While traditional forms of identity (like birth certificates, social security number) still hold weight, they are becoming increasingly insecure.

In the near future, ATB Innovation envisions a world where customers and users are in direct control of their personal information; a world where they can limit and control how much information they share while retaining the ability to transact and move seamlessly through the world. Read up on digital identification.

These are just a few areas that our Innovation team is exploring. But what COVID has revealed to us is that the world needs more innovation across almost every facet of our digital and physical lives: across healthcare, across our supply chains, across education, across manufacturing, across commerce. The list goes on...

Between now and when we reach the other side of this pandemic, we have the opportunity to do certain things differently and change what’s possible for tomorrow. Our world is moving faster than ever. The rules of the game are changing. And how we respond today to this pandemic will shape our lives for years to come. It’s time to innovate.

Since February, no one could have imagined how much the world would change, and how suddenly. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been impacted by COVID-19. And gratitude for all the essential workers leading us through these difficult times. Let’s all make sure some good comes from this crisis.

Sue McGill, ATB Innovation Lab