When a disaster occurs on the border of the United States and Canada, who responds to it and what does the response look like? In communities along the border between our two countries, that question is warranted. There is a strong possibility that both countries would have good cause to respond to a disaster on the border. So how do we handle a situation that doesn’t toe the boundary line, but in fact crosses it? At the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate, we look to our partners at the Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science and Public Safety Canada, to help us answer these questions. By engaging in a series of collaborative experiments through our Canada U.S. Enhanced Resiliency Experiment or CAUSE, we are finding those answers.
Our latest venture, CAUSE IV, tested the response to a tornado scenario on the Blue Water Bridge, which is the second busiest crossing between the United States and Canada, as it resides in Port Huron, Michigan and Sarnia, Ontario. The experiment consisted of two response situations, both focusing on how various government agencies share information in a crisis.
The first scenario tested the interoperability of paramedic and health services by using cross-border broadband wireless networks. Because there is a lot of activity on those networks during an emergency, we pushed them to the limit—and kept pushing. With the amount of voice data, video, and other essential information that would travel back and forth, our job is to make sure the transfer of information is as smooth as possible when an event occurs. Our second scenario explored our capability to automate models for alerting, situational awareness, citizen engagement and mutual aid planning efforts into an integrated and semi-automated process. This will enable officials in both countries to work together in a more precise and efficient manner.
Looking to the big picture, international border security and local resilience planning is extremely important. Not just for us, but for our neighbors to the north as well. We share numerous common interests and values, along with a daily exchange of culture, goods, services, and visitors. It’s that constant exchange that makes the CAUSE series necessary, as it shows what two neighbors can accomplish.
We live in a global community and when disaster strikes, we’re at our strongest when we work together.