What is the Canada-U.S. Enhanced Resiliency Experiment (CAUSE)?

The Canada-U.S. Enhanced Resiliency Experiment (CAUSE) is an ongoing program in support of President Obama's and Prime Minister Harper’s Beyond the Border Action Plan.  It is a series of experiments that test and evaluate technologies and processes that enable cross-border information sharing. Specific focus areas that CAUSE has explored include: coordination of local, state, provincial and national incident management and alerting systems across border; public safety broadband and deployable LTE; cross border request and acquisition of mutual aid; and using social media to enhance decision making in emergency management. The fifth and final iteration of this experiment, CAUSE V, took place in November 2017.

CAUSE Experiment Locations

CAUSE Series locations


The Beyond the Border Initiative

On February 4, 2011, President Obama and Prime Minister Harper announced the United States-Canada joint declaration, Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness. On December 7, 2011, President Obama and Prime Minister Harper released the Beyond the Border Action Plan, which set out joint priorities and specific initiatives for achieving the Beyond the Border vision. The Action Plan called for the establishment of a Communications Interoperability Working Group (CIWG), a group charged with developing and facilitating multi-jurisdictional and cross-border interoperability by:

  • Coordinating national-level emergency communications plans and strategies;
  • Identifying future trends and technologies related to communications interoperability;
  • Promoting the use of standards in emergency communications;
  • Promoting governance models and structures; and
  • Sharing best practices and lessons learned.

To that end, and in order to test the hypothesis that sharing data, alerts and warnings between Canada and the U.S.’s systems would not only provide interoperability, but would also augment situational awareness, reduce workload, and facilitate decision making, the CIWG put forth plans to conduct CAUSE.

The NISC’s Role in the CAUSE Experiments

The NISC has provided support to the CAUSE experiment series in several key ways. CAUSE participants have leveraged the NISC’s ArcGIS Online Common Library to access and exchange information. Additionally, the NISC has been identified as a transition partner to the U.S. DHS S&T for situational awareness and information sharing tools and models tested during the CAUSE series. Click here [link to transition blog post below] to learn more about the CAUSE leave-behinds transitioned to the NISC.


A capstone event for the six-year cross border experiment series, CAUSE V was held on November 15-16 in northwest Washington and adjacent mainland British Columbia. Building on the previous experiments in the series, CAUSE V leveraged a cross-border Band-14 public safety broadband (LTE) wireless platform to provide voice/data communication capabilities to first responders and the ability to monitor the scene and provide search and rescue using unmanned aerial/submersible vehicles. Additionally, trained digital volunteers formed a virtual operation support team (VOST) and provided support to emergency managers around specific missions, including identifying rumors and harmful misinformation.

Photo by Erik Endrulat, 2017. More Information:


Building on the lessons learned from CAUSE I, II, and III, CAUSE IV was held on April 26-28 in the Blue Waters area of Michigan and Ontario. The experiment involved a tornado scenario, with a cross-border paramedic response testing a seamless public safety wireless platform. Participants explored using new information sources, including digital volunteers, 2-1-1, and publicly submitted damage assessments, to evaluate the impact on response activities through improved situational awareness.

Photo by Jeff Sopel, 2016. More Information:


Building on the lessons learned from CAUSE I and II, CAUSE III sought to address improving interoperable communications (LMR, PSBN, Data, GIS), resource management/sharing protocols, and a cross-border Concept of Operations. Specific focus areas included:

  • 700 MHz/PSBN Interoperability Protocols
  • Wireless Public Alerting
  • Cross Border Mutual Aid best practices
  • Sharing Social Media for Emergency Management

For more information, see the CAUSE III after action report.


Conducted March 4-6, 2013, CAUSE II was designed to demonstrate the ability to exchange information between local, state, provincial and national agencies using various systems and software applications, including Canada’s Multi Agency Situational Awareness System (MASAS), and the U.S.’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) and Virtual USA (vUSA). Additionally, CAUSE II involved the use of Virtual Maine, and the Mutual Aid Support System and Mission Ready Package Tools (MASS MRP). Experiment participants, which included Canadian and U.S. federal agencies, and provincial and state partner organizations, worked within day-to-day processes and procedures to test and evaluate workflows that support:

  • Communication interoperability;
  • Enhanced situational awareness;
  • Request and acquisition of mutual aid; and
  • Resiliency and capacity to respond more effectively.

For more information, see the CAUSE II video and the  CAUSE II After Action Report.


The CAUSE Resiliency (West Coast) experiment project, conducted on June 21-23, 2011, was designed to engage the operational emergency management communities in British Columbia and bordering states, with the experimental use and integration of some emerging technologies that have recently been developed or are near operational readiness.

For more information, see the CAUSE I video.

Get Involved!

  • Contribute to the design of CAUSE events by submitting information sharing problem statements, use cases, and suggestions of information sharing tools
  • Suggest additional agencies that should be involved
  • Volunteer to participate in or host experiment events