Officials assess cross-border communications

Apr 28, 2016

Canada and the United States came together from April 26 to 28, 2016 to assess technologies that can help their respective emergency management officials and responders communicate and exchange information more efficiently during an emergency situation touching both sides of the border. The experiment provided key insights to inform future investments in cross-border communications technologies and the results will be documented in a joint Canada-U.S. after action report.
This was the fourth installment of the Canada-U.S. Enhanced Resiliency Experiment, known as CAUSE IV. It is based on a fictional scenario involving a severe thunderstorm, which spawns a tornado, and focused on two vignettes:
In the first vignette, paramedics were required to bring patients of the fictional disaster across the Blue Water Bridge between Canada and the United States. This aims to test cross-border voice and real-time video communications between paramedics, dispatch centres, and hospitals; as well as transmission of patient data from ambulances to hospitals. Voice and written data communications between Canada and U.S. border stations and bridge authorities were also tested, as they facilitate the ambulances’ ability to travel across the border as efficiently as possible.
In the second vignette, led by the United States, various methods of public notification, including social media, digital volunteers, and commercial notification software were used to compare their effectiveness in alerting the community of the impending tornado and follow-up response. The use of the National Public Alerting System (Canada) was also tested, in conjunction with the U.S. Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).
“Responding to emergencies is increasingly challenging as they become more intense and complex, which is why experiments such as CAUSE IV are so valuable to improving emergency responder’s safety and operational effectiveness by working with our American counterparts to improve Canada-U.S. cross-border communications," said Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
Spanning almost 9,000 kilometers, the Canada-U.S. border is the longest international border in the world; it represents more than three times the distance between Paris, France and Moscow, Russia.  The Canada-U.S. border touches eight Canadian provinces and territories and 13 U.S. states.
This demonstration provided participants with opportunities to use technology in a simulated setting to learn how technologies, such as radio and telecommunication systems, perform under different emergency scenarios. This information will help assess the functionality and value of the technology, determine potential changes to improve the technology for operational use, and assess the procedures and training needed to maximize its use.

“The CAUSE IV experiment gave us tremendous insight into the testing of emerging communication technologies that could strengthen cross-border collaboration," said Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence. "The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the development of capabilities that provide emergency management organizations and first responders with the resources needed to respond and recover from disasters as safely and effectively as possible.”
CAUSE IV is a collaborative effort between Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), an agency of the Department of National Defence (DND); Public Safety Canada; and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T), in partnership with various partners, including local emergency responders and supporting federal agencies and departments within each national jurisdiction in the Sarnia, Ontario and Port Huron, Michigan regions. For a complete list of partners, please visit the CAUSE IV Web page.