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Keeping a watchful eye

Colleen Moore
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 05/03) - The technology to perform Arctic surveillance in the North is being stepped up.

Security experts from federal and territorial departments met in Yellowknife recently to discuss Arctic security and share ideas about possible approaches to change.

NNSL Photo

Colonel Norris Pettis discussed the Polar Epsilon project, which should be operating in the North by 2008. - Colleen Moore/NNSL photo

Colonel Norris Pettis, head of Canadian Forces Northern Network, said the Polar Epsilon satellite, which will undergo a trial run, will be operational by 2008, is capable of surveying ground and water from space.

"This is the way we have got to go to monitor things," he said. "Right now, the only way to detect anything in the North is the human eyeball."

Pettis said that Canada will be renting time on the satellite, which can detect a number of security issues, including environmental disasters and military movements along the Arctic coastline.

Not soon enough

Rob Huebert, a professor of international relations at the University of Calgary, specializes in Arctic security and was also in Yellowknife for the meeting.

He said using satellite surveillance to monitor the Arctic lands and waters should have been happening decades ago, but he is still thrilled that it will soon be in place. "I'm just very pleased that we are moving at all," he said.

The Arctic Security Interdepartmental Working Group gathers twice a year to discuss different issues, share information and intelligence and provide input as to what solutions would work to enhance Arctic security in the North.