Canada-US Enhanced (CAUSE) IV Resiliency Experiment

April 2016

Project Summary

In April 2016, International Safety Research (ISR) worked with Canadian and US first responders to execute the Canada-US Enhanced (CAUSE) Resiliency Experiment for Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science (DRDC CSS), Public Safety Canada and the US Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate First Responders Group. This marked the fourth experiment in this series and demonstrated that shared situational awareness through interoperable communications during an emergency can lead to enhanced resiliency. CAUSE IV involved participants from the Canada-US border communities of Sarnia, ON and St Clair County, MI. This experiment used a variety of advanced technologies and applications in order to promote cross-border information sharing while simulating a coordinated cross-border patient transfer and a response to a tornado causing destruction on both sides of the border.

CAUSE IV consisted of two separate vignettes. ISR helped coordinate the development and conduct of both vignettes and was directly involved in the design and execution of the Canadian-led vignette. The Canadian-led vignette tested the potential impact of interoperable technology to improve cross-border emergency response and medical operations. A cross-border 700MHz Public Safety Broadband Network (PSBN) was established to enable the exchange of near real-time voice, video and data between healthcare facilities and supporting organizations during a cross-border patient transfer. The PSBN enabled consistent communications amongst bridge authorities, customs agencies, dispatch and physicians prior to, during and following the crossing of the border of the ambulance. The US-led vignette tested the potential impact of social media and crowd-sourcing technologies on public alerts, notifications and warning systems. This vignette involved the implementation of digital volunteers, 2-1-1 operators and a suite of mapping applications in order to plan for, report on and respond to an emergency both locally and across the border.

ISR developed a multi-phased evaluation approach including baseline measurements of existing processes and procedures. Data was gathered using surveys and interviews, observations, situation awareness, workload and system usability ratings and the collection of qualitative feedback via a survey and hotwash sessions. Following the completion of the experiment, the data set was subjected to quantitative and/or qualitative analyses to determine the impact of the emerging interoperable technology on the cross-border communities’ emergency response capabilities with respect to the Canadian Communications Interoperability Continuum (CCIC) model and the Social Media in Emergency Management (SMEM) model. The analysis identified the ability of technologies and applications to augment existing systems in order to improve cross-border awareness and exchange of information.

Finally, in order to fully support the development and conduct of this experiment, ISR organized a formal Observer Program on behalf of DRDC CSS. This Program facilitated the opportunity for senior observers from the emergency response community, including fire and paramedic chiefs and public safety personnel, to witness the experiment at each of the main vignette locations.

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