CI: What is it?

Mar 15, 2007

Our winter Borders and Biometrics edition was very timely. Shortly after its release, in the context of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) February meetings in Ottawa, the Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs, Security, and Prosperity from the US, Mexico and Canada, established a high level coordinating body to: “prioritize and oversee emergency management activities in the following areas: 1) emergency response; 2) critical infrastructure protection; 3) border resumption in the event of an emergency; and 4) border incident management.” Having covered numbers 3 and 4, FrontLine Security’s spring edition coincidently deals primarily with number 2 on that recommendation list: Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP)  – a point of focus that I consider needs more  attention.

In November 2004, the federal government, after the spring publication of the National Security Policy and the ­welcome and corollary reorganization of acronyms within government and its agencies, released a “position paper” on a National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure Protection. This document did pick up on some of the work that had been done by the forerunning agency responsible for CIP. If one compares the recent activity and focus on the protection of Critical Infrastructure (CI) in Canada with that South of our border, even bearing in mind our propensity to declare a natural immunity from international threat because of our kindness and superior values, one deduces that our progress has been mollusc-like.

It is fitting that we address this issue now. It is widely understood within most government circles that something must be done beyond  continuously  revising the draft policy originally promised for summer 2005. I have heard that we are now beyond “draft 16” of this particular position paper… reassuring is it not?

Eighty percent of our critical infrastructure is privately-owned and crosses all tiers of Canadian governance as well as that of many other infrastructure providers. The safety and well-being of today’s Canadian relies far more heavily than any generation before on the effective and reliable functioning of these ­critical infrastructures. Canadians rely on bank machines for money, and such equipment relies on communications that in turn rely on power and water. We rely on transportation to intervene and to eat and to rest. Our hospitals rely on all of this and on a sufficient and healthy staff. Interdependence of our CI is a fact of life.

We regret that we were unable to get a viewpoint from PSEPC, the federal government department responsible for coordinating these issues.

Dr. Joe Varner provides a “tour d’horizon” on the history and potential of terrorist threats against CI. To reinforce his article, according to the 13 February 2007 installment of the Terrorism Index – produced by Foreign Policy magazine and the Center for American Progress that includes a former secretary of state, national security ­advisor, and National Security Agency director – declares that the United States is losing the war on terror (75% of the centre’s membership and respected analysts agree. Most (81%) agree that the world is becoming more dangerous for Americans, and 80% say they expect another 9/11-scale attack on U.S. soil at some point in the next decade).  

Though this is indeed very challenging if you superimpose the physical co-location of these interdependent infrastructures in our major urban areas, it is not at all the only threat, nor the most prominent. Mother Nature has had a  tremendous impact on our infrastructures and will continue to do so. Many recent studies have pointed out the tremendous and costly damages brought about by such increasing natural disasters over the last decades, right here in Canada. Watch for FrontLine coverage of Natural Disaster Preparedness in our summer edition.

We do not have a representative article from each of the ten CI sectors defined by our government, but we offer you a rather interesting group of issues such as the superb “cri de coeur” on the need for national and international partnerships and standards by Stuart Brindley from the Electrical Power sector of the North East coast of North America. His point on interdependencies of CI is most important. In fact, it is the topic of a heavily-funded series of research projects by Public Safety Canada and the subject of a recent conference held at our Emergency Preparedness College. I was impressed with the research done by presenters Drs. Jose Marti and Jorge Pullman of UBC. I encourage support for this research program and its study by the SPP’s “high level coordinating body.”

This sector is followed with an article on “Security in the Nuclear Industry” by Gerry Frappier and David Sachs, wherein new regulations and standards for the industry since 9-11 are explained. This is certainly most reassuring.  

Mark Edmonds then provides us with a knowledgeable and in-depth look at our hospitals, their people and structures as CI. A sobering and important contribution that pulls no punches.

We blast out to space with the GeoConnections Program, as Philip Dawe and Ken Marshall examine the use of Geospatial Mapping as a modern tool of Emergency Management. Remaining on the space theme, we present Lieutenant-Commander Quinn’s article on Arctic and Maritime Domain Awareness – from Space! These articles have caused us to reflect upon the greater use of space-based information for all border surveillance.

Michael Abramson looks at Infor­mation Technology, guaranteed access to quality information, and the elusive aspects of information sharing and inter­operability.

We are privileged to have received a most informative article on Interpol, from a Canadian perspective. Mark Giles sheds light on the global playing field of both criminals and law enforcement, from an important organization, of which most know rather little, wherein Canada plays a very important role and from which we benefit greatly.  

In rounding out the menu for this issue, we offer you an excellent dessert… a “pièce de résistance.” Doug Hanchard and US Navy Commander and Dr Eric Rasmussen provide us with their account of a most interesting series of Emergency Response Exercises called “Strong Angel.” I find the techniques and training principles that they espouse worth pursuing in Canada – at all levels. Their healthy skepticism of major assumptions surrounding most such training is solidly founded and well worth examining, if not adopting outright. A very good read from people who have done the real thing.

As you will read, Canada has done some important CI work, but we have not done enough in this very important realm. As one looks beyond the federal level, one sees more progress and real work being done to coordinate and resolve these teamwork issues. We can only wish that more is done, and soon, at the national level. Canada has responded well to many emergencies in the recent past and we have justly earned praise for this – however, all who know the beast, know that more can be done (and better) with existing resources, by coordinating and optimizing all synergies available.

I thank all contributors for their work and wish all readers a professionally ­fulfilling read or, at least, a satisfying quench for a security thirst.   

Addendum: Catherine Johnston’s article (winter 2006/07) on Privacy and Security is called to mind in light of recent pronouncements by the Privacy Com­mis­sioner for Ontario, Dr. Cavoukian. Both state that technology, particularly bio­metrics, can help protect our privacy and increase our security in so doing ( This is a far cry from some of the more inaccurate statements and ill-informed innuendo of recent debates  around the Anti Terrorist Act.

Clive Addy, Executive Editor
© FrontLine Security 2007