Canadian and U.S. emergency management officials testing new communication technologies to improve emergency response

Backgrounder

On November 15 and 16, 2017, the Department of National Defence’s Centre for Security Science and the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate conducted the fifth Canada-U.S. Resiliency Experiment, known as CAUSE V, to demonstrate how technologies can enable Canadian and U.S. emergency management officials and responders to communicate and exchange information as emergency incidents unfold.

CAUSE, in its fifth installment since 2011, is a collaborative effort between the U.S. and Canada aimed at improving situational awareness and communication of critical information necessary to better plan and execute a coordinated response to a potential incident affecting both sides of the border. Encompassing a range of participants from federal government agencies, as well as provincial, municipal, and non-governmental organizations, CAUSE V took place near the border in Lower Mainland, British Columbia and Whatcom County in the state of Washington.

Based on a simulated disaster scenario involving a volcanic eruption and subsequent crater collapse, emergency responders and management officials from both nations put their knowledge and skills to the test using cutting-edge information sharing technologies including unmanned aerial vehicles and public safety broadband networks. These networks are secure high-speed wireless data communications networks used by emergency responders and public safety personnel in emergency situations. 

Partners

In addition to the Department of National Defence’s Centre for Security Science and the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, CAUSE V included a range of partners from both nations:

Canadian partners included: Public Safety Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, City of Abbotsford, E-Comm 9-1-1, Emergency Management BC, Fraser Valley Regional District, Langley Emergency Program, New Westminster Fire & Rescue, and Victoria Fire Department Emergency Management Division

U.S. partners included: Semiahmoo First Nation Emergency Preparedness Team, Cascade Natural Gas Corporation, City of Bellingham, Customs and Border Protection, Port of Bellingham, Puget Sound Energy, Seattle City Light, US Geological Survey’s Cascade Volcano Laboratory, Washington State Emergency Management Division, Washington State Patrol, Western Washington University, Whatcom Unified Emergency Coordination Center and Williams Energy

Expected outcomes

Cross-border information sharing and communications is essential to planning and executing a more coordinated and effective response to incidents affecting both sides of the border. Accurate and timely information is critical to planning and executing response efforts and making informed decisions.

The objective of the CAUSE V experiment is to measure progress and validate the Canada–U.S. Beyond the Border Action Plan initiative to ‘rapidly respond to and recover from disasters and emergencies on either side of the border’. This experiment series incorporates new interoperable communications technologies and applications into realistic simulated disaster scenarios. Participants connected, tested, and demonstrated emerging operational technologies to enhance resilience and reduce regional and national risks. Enhancing multi-jurisdictional and cross-border interoperability improves both nations’ ability to plan and conduct effective emergency response activities. Results from the experiment will help assess the functionality and value of the technology, determine potential improvements for operational use, and identify the procedures and training needed to maximize effective use.

About the Canadian Safety and Security Program 

The Canadian Safety and Security Program (CSSP) is a federal program led by National Defence’s Centre for Security Science, in partnership with Public Safety Canada, which provides policy guidance on issues related to public safety and security. Established in 2012, the CSSP invests in S&T projects that strengthen Canada’s ability to anticipate, prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters, serious accidents, crime, and terrorism. This is achieved through the convergence of S&T with policy, operations, and intelligence. 

The program supports projects that bring together federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal governments, first responders, response and emergency management organizations, non-governmental agencies, industry, and academia to develop S&T solutions and advice to address public safety and security challenges.

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