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Canada's Strategy for Satellite Earth Observation

Delivering the vision: Our objectives

3 Strengthen delivery of critical services to keep Canadians healthy, safe and informed

Delivery of more than 60 of the GC's essential services for Canadians relies on satellite data and the Government's wider system of satellite EO infrastructure and expert analysis. Long-term planning is required for the GC to safeguard service continuity and continuously improve its fundamental services to Canadians in a manner that is efficient and Resourceful. In pursuit of this, the GC will work with industry, academic, and Indigenous partners to:

  1. Ensure continuity of critical services
    A multitude of government services relies on historical data sets and the uninterrupted flow of quality data each day. Through mission development focused on the long term, the data that underlies many services to Canadians will continue uninterrupted. This will be accomplished by developing the next generation of government satellites and services through procurement for concepts and R&D from both industry and academia. Additionally, as Canadian cities and communities grow, more users are seeking benefits from the unique vantage point and capabilities of satellite EO. The GC will work to expand awareness across government at all levels by working collaboratively to invent satellite EO applications for new and emerging users. This enhanced uptake will increase demand and thereby support Canada's growing satellite EO industry. Lastly, in accordance with the GC's Defence Strategy: Strong, Secure, Engaged, Canada's civilian satellite investments will be leveraged to complement and provide reinforcement for our current and future national defence systems.

Satellite EO in action:
Identifying Vulnerability and Reducing Risk to Canadians

The GC Socio-Economic Dashboard for Emergency Preparedness and Response provides an easy-to-use online system for provincial/territorial governments and emergency managers to identify populations at risk. During hazard events like floods and wildfires, the dashboard combines information from satellites with geospatial data and socio-economic data from the ground. The result is a detailed data product featuring critical information on transportation and communications infrastructure, hospital capacity, school closures, police and fire services, population characteristics, housing, and health indices. A specific innovation of the tool has been the inclusion of crowdsourced citizen observations (geotagged photos) submitted through an app. The dashboard's information helps emergency managers direct resources, gain new insights on local vulnerabilities, and reduce the economic and human cost of disasters.

An example of a flood vulnerability map made using the GC Socio-Economic Dashboard for Emergency Preparedness and Response. (Credit: Dashboard by Statistics Canada and Natural Resources Canada. Flood extent created by Natural Resources Canada)

  1. Modernize Canada's network of critical ground infrastructure
    As the volumes of satellite data grow, increasingly advanced infrastructure is needed on the ground to both collect it and control spacecraft in orbit. Canada is addressing its data receiving and operations infrastructure by investing in the modernization of a streamlined federal network of ground stations. This will allow the GC and its partners to downlink more data and communicate more effectively with current and next-generation satellites. At the same time, we are re-affirming our commitment to working with international partners to download vital international data sets. As we move forward, Canadian companies, universities, and international partners will be important partners in leveraging new technologies for data reception and satellite operations. Ultimately, more companies, start-ups, universities, and researchers will have access to this key asset in operating and receiving data from Earth observation satellites.

Satellite EO in action:
Monitoring Our Oceans and Maritime Approaches

Thanks to the three satellites that make up the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM), and their Automatic Identification System (AIS) technology, unregistered foreign ships and illegal fishing boats can no longer move undetected into Canadian waters. The AIS system, coupled with the ability of the RCM to detect ships in all weather conditions, day and night, provides near-real-time maritime surveillance in the Arctic and wide-open ocean areas where other sensors are less effective or unable to operate. This saves time and money by targeting aircraft and boat patrols for national defence and fisheries enforcement, helping Canada exercise sovereignty in the North, restrict illegal fishing, and protect fish stocks and marine habitat from vessels that do not comply with Canadian regulations. The RCM detects oil spills, locates aircraft crash sites at sea, and helps monitor marine protected areas. Combining ocean surface data collected by the RCM with measurements acquired by other sensors, scientists are today creating a four-dimensional model of ocean characteristics to support marine and climate studies, and defence vessel command personnel. In this dual role, Canada's RCM satellites help both understand our ocean environment and strengthen our national security.

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