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An investment in security science

For a Canadian Forces combat engineer serving as an explosive ordnance disposal technician, having the best technology for the job is crucial. So too for first responders such as police, firefighters or paramedics when confronting a possible chemical or radiological incident.

In both instances, the research and science behind new technologies can save lives.

Since 2006, Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science (CSS) has been at the heart of a collaborative effort involving 19 federal departments, academia and industry to manage three programs around CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological-nuclear and explosives) research and technology; public security S&T efforts in critical infrastructure protection, emergency management systems and interoperability; and a S&T police research centre.

CSS has leveraged expertise from various sectors to identify gaps and deliver solutions to a range of safety and security challenges, from emergency and specialized planning to policy options, from food safety to CBRNE counter-measures, environmental responses and law enforcement requirements.

On June 17, the government announced the creation of the Canadian Safety and Security Program (CSSP), an amalgamation of those three CSS programs that is intended to streamline management processes, enhance the centre’s results, and improve alignment with government priorities.

Drawing on best practices identified under the previous three programs, CSS’s mandate will remain to strengthen Canada’s ability to prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters, serious accidents, crime and terrorism through the convergence of S&T with policy, operations and intelligence.

However, as Defence Minister Peter MacKay explained in announcing the annual $43.5 investment, integrating these efforts under one comprehensive program “ensures that Canada has a technological advantage to cope with disasters, minimizing as much as possible their impact on the lives and livelihoods of Canadians.”

Formed as a joint venture between National Defence and Public Safety Canada, CSS will use the boost in funding for the CSSP to support projects and fill gaps in knowledge and capabilities identified through risk and vulnerability assessments.

CSSP will continue to promote a collaborative approach. Through projects, studies, exercises, workshops and other activities, it will allow a diverse field of experts to tackle the most pressing safety and security issues by collaborating on the development of knowledge, tools, processes and strategies.

Accordingly, the program will provide funding through three separate investment categories: an annual competitive call for proposals; targeted funding for projects not addressed by the call for proposals; and community development funding to support the activities of communities of practice.

The funding will be targeted at nine types of projects, including evidence-based studies of known public safety and security issues, R&D projects of applied research to generate new knowledge or awareness, technology demonstrations, workshops, technology acquisition projects, and operational support, either through S&T projects or testing and evaluation projects.

Funding has also been allocated to stand-up the DRDC Emergency Responder Test and Evaluation Establishment (ERTEE) in Regina to work with practitioners, universities and industry to test and evaluate potential technologies, and examine associated standards, processes and methodologies.

“The new program builds on [past] successes and brings together the best science and technology in support of Canada’s public safety and national security priorities,” said Dr. Marc Fortin, DRDC’s chief executive officer, in a release.

The CSSP is an evolution of that success. The Centre for Security Science was created in the aftermath of 9/11 to manage the research work of the CBRNE Research and Technology Initiative, and later that of the two additional public security S&T programs. The harmonization of all three into the CSSP carries that work forward.

Through the three programs, CSS developed a complex network of partnerships comprised of all levels of governments, responder organizations, non-governmental agencies, industry and academia. CSSP will seek to continue to build on that legacy.

Author: Daniela Fisher from the June/July 2012 issue published

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