Springboard Atlantic


Lost your password?

Security Research Gets $20M Boost

OTTAWA — You might soon be able to text 911 during an emergency thanks to government research.

Ottawa announced $20 million in funding Tuesday for 26 security studies across the country, including a couple that involve Dalhousie University.

They involve everything from border security and anti-terrorism planning to creating a next-generation 911 system.

The London Police Service will be taking the lead on looking at “incorporating texting, social media and image and video transfer tools into Next Generation 911.”

While this opens up intriguing possibilities, like tweeting when your car gets stolen or asking the fire department to Like that your house is burning down on Facebook, the study is yet to be done. Ottawa is kicking in $96,000.

“There is so much technology that can be brought right to the forefront of how we respond to critical incidents, to emergencies, to natural disasters,” said Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

Among the grants are $982,000 and $300,000 for two studies of how to contain nuclear contamination.

Other studies are more mundane, such as boosting cyber security and beefing up X-ray machines.

MacKay said the purpose of the program is to be ready for threats from criminal attacks or natural disasters against critical infrastructure — things like water, food, power utilities and transportation.

One $800,000 study being led by the New Brunswick Department of Public Safety will involve Dalhousie University. The team is looking at how to better share classified information in case of a major threat. The trick is balancing increased sharing with respecting privacy rights.

“One of the major considerations is respecting the nation’s, the provinces’ and the agencies’ privacy laws,” said Mark Williamson, acting director general of Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science.

One $358,714 study that also involves Dalhousie will look at the supply chain of critical infrastructure. It was partly inspired by heavy flooding in New Brunswick.

“They’ve had flooding every year,” said Williamson. “There’s not many roads in and out, and if you break the supply chain, say, for food or supplies of any nature, then it’s going to have an economic impact.

“This study is really about assessing that economic impact.”

Nova Scotia is one of several provincial governments taking part in a $696,200 study that also looks at sharing information. The study aims to develop an information technology system that inventories security risks.

In an unrelated event, ACOA announced it will give $1.26 million to DMF Medical Inc. of Halifax. The company is designing a device known as ZeroSorb, which is supposed to allow for safer delivery of anesthesia.

The government funding will go toward finishing the design, testing and ultimately manufacturing the product.

Other funding commitments made as part of the $20-million security announcement included:

•$1.2 million to Transport Canada to enhance X-ray systems at border crossings.

•$477,000 to Transport Canada to enhance detection of explosives through vapour sampling.

•$296,000 to the Public Health Agency of Canada to develop a treatment against the Zaire Ebola virus.

•$415,000 to Natural Resources Canada to enhance the ability to track forest fire smoke in order to help guide evacuation decisions.

•$550,000 to the Manitoba government’s Information Protection Centre to develop a system to detect advanced cyber attacks.