The journey to make a difference

Compugen’s lead Azure solutions architect Julian Galley is cycling almost 3400 km from the company’s Calgary, Alberta office to its headquarters in Richmond Hill, Ontario to raise funds for the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

And it all started with a door sensor.

When Galley was looking for an Internet of Things (IoT) use case for his experiments with Ruuvi Tag sensors and Microsoft Azure IoT, he realized he had an ideal application close to home. His mother has late-stage dementia and resides in an assisted living facility. She tends to wander at night.

“And so, the use case was born,” he blogged. “We thought it might be interesting to be able to track how often this was happening each night and see if this data was useful in predicting if the next day was going to be a good day.”

He mounted a sensor on her suite’s door and paired it with a Raspberry Pi computer that sent telemetry to Microsoft Azure Streaming Analytics, which in turn sent alerts to his cell phone when the door opened.

“This exercise in curiosity-based Azure IoT research with a personal use case really helped to solidify my understanding of what is happening under the covers of IoT solutions, and to share the findings with Compugen’s Azure team to broaden our cloud competencies,” he noted. And it also helped trigger the idea of the cross-country cycling trek to raise funds for charity.

Compugen’s management jumped on board immediately. And thus was born The Journey to Make a Difference.

Since June 28, he has been on the road, stopping at Compugen offices along the

Galley at the Terry Fox memorial in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Credit: Julian Galley

way. He plans to make it to Richmond Hill around July 27, when there will be a barbecue and celebration of the trek.

The genesis of the ride occurred while Galley was driving home to Calgary after dropping his son off at Queen’s University and began musing about how to leverage what he had learned from the IoT exercise.

“I had gotten some ideas about what I could do next with that learning and curiosity; it involved a bike computer and a bike,” he explained in an interview. “And I thought, I wonder if I could send the data from the bike computer up to the Azure cloud and then do something interesting with it. At that time, I was thinking more along the lines of some of the racing that I do, and wouldn’t it be interesting to have the data trapped in Azure.

“It all came together as an idea about, could I assemble something that is interesting to my employer to sponsor as well as something that has a personal story and a hook to it, so that we could do some fundraising for something that’s meaningful to me. And it took me a while to put all the ideas together and get brave enough to present to our president, Harry (Zarek), and when I finally did, and everything solidified, it was his willingness to participate and to see this as something that Compugen could get behind, the industry and our partners could get behind, and our friends and family and colleagues could get behind both personally and from business. It seems to have worked out in a way that combined several of my passions.”

“All of us at Compugen fully support Julian in this massive undertaking,” said Harry Zarek, president and chief executive officer, Compugen. “What an amazing example of curiosity and determination!”

As plans solidified, Compugen’s partners got involved as well.

“Microsoft has been very, very interested in the technical integration,” Galley said. “I got to work with a couple of their data architects, one in the UK and one in Canada. One had one piece of the puzzle I needed, and the other one had the beginnings of the other piece of the puzzle, and we were able to work together to get our technical integration, and to deliver on the message that I was keen on the Powered by Azure, which is my area of focus at Compugen, and really wanted to make sure that it had an opportunity to shine.”

“We are really proud of Julian,” Zarek said. “He wanted to find a way to support his mother who has Alzheimer’s. That led him to develop an IoT application to help with her mobility. He then found a way to connect it to his love of cycling, which eventually led to the ambitious goal of riding from our Calgary office all the way to Toronto. With the technology that he put together, we, along with other supporters of the cause, can monitor his journey in real-time across the famous TransCanada highway. At the same time, he is raising funds for the Alzheimer Society through this initiative.”

Follow Galley’s journey in real-time, thanks to the Azure IoT integration, on The Journey’s website, where you can also sign up to help sponsor the ride or follow the link on the site to donate to the Alzheimer Society of Canada. So far, the event has raised almost C$13,000.

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Lynn Greiner
Lynn Greiner
Lynn Greiner has been interpreting tech for businesses for over 20 years and has worked in the industry as well as writing about it, giving her a unique perspective into the issues companies face. She has both IT credentials and a business degree

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