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Arctic and North Atlantic Security and Emergency Preparedness Network

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ARCSAR (Arctic and North Atlantic Security and Emergency Preparedness Network)

Reporting period: 2018-09-01 to 2020-02-29

The overall aim of ARCSAR is to fast‐track uptake of existing innovations and knowledge by practitioners, predict future needs for innovation and knowledge, and identify priorities for security and standardization across the Arctic and North-Atlantic (ANA) region. To establish international best practice and develop innovation platforms for the professional security and emergency response institutions in the region.

ARCSAR will look into the need for enhanced measures to emergency response capability related to search and rescue (SAR) and environmental protection.
The focus is on increased interaction in targeted networks between the professional institutions, academia and the innovators in the preparedness service and equipment industry. To monitor research and innovation projects and recommend the uptake and the industrialization of results, express common requirements as regards innovations that could fill in capability and other gaps and improve their performance in the future, and indicate priorities as regards common capabilities, or interfaces among capabilities, requiring more standardization.

In more recent times, the Arctic has experienced a significant increase in human activity and interactions. The region is becoming a highly important economic trade route with increasing infrastructure. New shipping routes are opening up due to changes in the ice coverage, providing new routes for the transport of goods from east to west. Fossil fuel exploration and infrastructure development has resulted in a 63% increase in shipping activity between 2018 – 2019. With economic drivers such as reduced transit times and increased fuel efficiency available to ship owners, as the Arctic becomes more accessible, so too will the likelihood of increased shipping activity. Demands from consumers for extreme tourism has resulted in a significant increase in tourism activity and cruise ship traffic throughout the region. The increase of mainstream traffic within these regions pose a number of safety challenges. Environmental considerations such as variable and dynamic ice cover, ice build-up on vessels, harsh sea conditions, extreme climates, 24hr darkness during winter, and remoteness/disconnections from SAR infrastructure pose a number of major challenges for ANA stakeholders. The increased activity requires more open cooperation among governments, industry, and security organisations across many jurisdictions.
During the first reporting period, ARCSAR has:
- Situated ARCSAR within existing fora, exercises and conferences to integrate functions, reduce overlap and establish unique competencies and domains
- Developed the ARCSAR website and network platform to expand impact and provide important information about the project
- Created an Intranet space to facilitate communication and knowledge exchange among network members
- Established a social media presence by creating an ARCSAR Twitter and Instagram feed, Facebook page, YouTube channel and LinkedIn account. Social media hashtags are also being utilized to increase the visibility of project accomplishments
- Hosted a high profile event, showcasing the ARCSAR project to a global audience
- Launched an Innovation Arena where new advances can be proposed and promoted, challenges can be diagnosed, and Arctic specific best practices can be developed
- Held several workshops and open meetings, bringing together representatives from a wide variety of organizations and institutions to establish shared mental models of the needs and capabilities of Arctic stakeholders
- Hosted a joint tabletop exercise (TTX) providing participants the opportunity to work through a disaster scenario requiring cooperation and coordination between incident responders
- Mapped knowledge and innovation needs which included a synthesis of expert opinions, results from existing research projects and relevant literature. Identifying 20 gaps in knowledge and innovation.

In the last year members of the media, government representatives and business and enterprise organizations, a total of over fifty different entities, have attended and/or participated in ARCSAR events.
- The Innovation Arena (IA) has been developed and launched. A platform where new advancements can be proposed and promoted, challenges can be diagnosed, and Arctic specific best practices can be developed. With messaging capabilities, which allow users to communicate and exchange information securely.

- The list of challenges discussed at the ARCSAR workshops has been all-encompassing. From capability gaps in lifesaving appliance and cold survival issues, communication issues, navigation and voyage planning issues, to the broader training/education requirements for those operating in the area, these workshops offer an unparalleled opportunity for community learning. Workshops and meetings have also addressed technology needs and improvements including satellite-based services, cold climate tests of rescue equipment, cold climate oil spill response and sharing of situational awareness and broadband communication, physiological responses during cold exposure, challenges of operating in sea ice, how to engage indigenous peoples and volunteers in emergencies, and satellite services for supporting Arctic Communities. ARCSAR has conducted a Mapping of Practitioner Needs for Innovation and Knowledge Exchange. This includes interviews with experts, review of relevant literature, and an analysis of the results of previous studies, concluded with the identification of twenty gaps, spanning across six key themes forming the basis of six working groups, tasked with further examining identified issues. The report also synthesized current knowledge and awareness into shared mental models which can serve as a baseline for new developments.

- An instruction video for helicopter rescue has been developed and produced, based on ARCSAR practitioner’s' workshop discussions where a need for knowledge on how to safely perform helicopter winching (hoisting) operations on a vessel was identified.

- An online Arctic On Scene Coordination (OSC) course available to the cruise industry has been developed by two of the ARCSAR members, also based on needs communicated through the ARCSAR workshops

- ARCSAR has hosted one of a series of table top exercises (TTX) – involving expedition cruise operators, Arctic search and rescue (SAR) responders and other relevant stakeholders. The event allowed participants to engage in frank discussions and gain valuable insight into the perspective and operational mode of the entities they will deal with in the event of an emergency. The event is aimed at enhancing dialogue and cooperation between the cruise industry and the SAR sector in the Arctic. It also features presentations with updates on the latest developments in maritime preparedness, policy, technology and SAR cooperation.

- ARCSAR has established links and collaborated with a number of Arctic themed EU projects. The project has regularly engaged with the EU-PolarNet and has become a member of the EU Polar Cluster, which targets the improved coordination between EU research activities, while also developing sustainable dialogue and cooperation between a multitude of polar stakeholders. The project also collaborated with the SEDNA project focusing on Arctic shipping during the Arctic Circles Assembly in 2019.
ARCSAR Network at kick-off meeting