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Bottom-line-up-front (BLUF): CAUSE3 is a joint Canada/US technology experiment with a twist. CAUSE3 is focused on dealing with the non-technology issues related to technology that is already fielded to improve both Canada’s and US’ resiliency to disasters and emergencies.

Disclosure: This article is my personal and professional view of an amazing series of experiments. The opinions and ideas here are mine and may not reflect the official position of the agencies involved. Official statements by the lead agencies (Public Safety Canada and the DRDC Centre for Security Science for Canada and DHS S&T FRG for the US) will be linked to when they become available. 


CAUSE3 – An Amazing Project

One of the projects that I am fortunate to work on is the Canada US Enhanced (CAUSE) Resilience experiments. I help to coordinate these experiments, which are run by Canada and the US to build up both countries’ resilience.

I had a bit part in the first CAUSE experiment and last year I helped guide CAUSE2 through to fruition (managed scenario, injects, technology integration, and partially MC’ed). Right now I’m helping guide CAUSE3, which runs this November. Things are still shaping up but major pieces are falling into place. That being said, we’re hitting our stride in getting things aligned.

As a technology advisor to CSS my role is to be a vendor-neutral technology lead. CAUSE3 is really fun from a technology perspective because we don’t focus on technology. The policy, regulatory, governance, operating concepts, and processes are the focus. CAUSE3 tries to answer a simple question. That being, “How do we take a known solution to a problem and remove the barriers to implementation to enhance our bi-national resilience?” Quite often there may be simple solutions available so CAUSE3 aims to identify the barriers in the way and start to deal with removing them.

Four Main Vignettes

CAUSE3 is organized into four main “vignettes” that focus on different technology areas. I won’t go deep into them (they may be topics for later!)

  • Alerts, Warnings, and Notifications is a US-led initiative that integrates IPAWS on the US side, MASAS on the Canadian side, and some tools for exchanging both public alerts and situational awareness information back and forth across the border.
  • Social Media and Digital Volunteers is a Canadian-led piece that brings in another amazing project – the Digital Volunteer Support for Response Operations Experiment (DVSROE), which is another project I am pleased to work on. This one brings #SMEM (Social Media for Emergency Management) and #VOST (Virtual Operation Support Teams) to the foreground and adds on work by world leaders in how social media fits into operations.
  • Deployable Public Safety Broadband is a Canadian-led initiative that is pushing the envelope on how the recently allocated 10MHz of 700MHz spectrum can provide more resilience in Canada and the US by allowing deployment of portable comms bubbles.
  • Mutual Aid is a US-led initiative that is addressing how US and Canada emergency managers can help each other by reaching across the border to use assets that are closer than the nearest in-country resource. Many municipalities that straddle the border do this kind of thing routinely but reaching beyond that will make Canada more resilient.

During CAUSE3 we’re likely going to be doing some really cool stuff with the experiment itself and we have players all over North America engaging. We’re considering a live stream of onsite video, screenshares, and regular discussions alongside a more formal briefing room for VIPs and others that want more scheduled and structure views of the experiment. More detail to follow on that as the situation unfolds (I’m pretty excited about this development!)

Two Locations & Times for CAUSE3

CAUSE3 will run 18-20NOV2014 (18NOV is a dry run day, then 2 days of experimentation) in Dartmouth, NS at the Canadian Red Cross Disaster Forum for all but the Deployable PSBN vignette. The Deployable PSBN vignette takes place in the following week out West where Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Montana meet up (i.e. where there is little to no broadband coverage!).

CAUSE3 Execution

CAUSE3 runs in two locations and times:

  • 18-20NOV2014 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This portion of CAUSE3 is focused on the Social Media, Mutual Aid, and the Alerts, Warnings, and Notification vignettes.
  • 24-25NOV2014 in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Montana is focused on the Deployable PSBN vignette.

CAUSE3 is running in a closed, simulated environment. The whole experiment is conducted using exercise coordination and simulated social media from ISR. The ISR technology allows us to control the release of information while creating an environment for “free play”. This environment also captures experiment metrics so the evaluators can measure improvement. This measurement is done without direct input from the participants most of the time.

Social Media (#CAUSE3)

Though the experiment is conducted in an closed environment, the CAUSE3 team will be active on open social media. During execution the #CAUSE3 hashtag will be used on social media to bring attention to things.

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