Response and monitoring
The Government Operations Centre's everyday activity includes:
- Monitoring the environment and reporting on it 24/7
- Providing national-level awareness of situations that could evolve into national emergencies
- Preparing warning products and integrated risk assessments
- Undertaking national-level planning
- Coordinating whole-of-government response management
- Supporting senior officials and decision-makers
See descriptions of past events
What the GOC monitors
The GOC monitors information from Canadian and international partners and open sources for potential emergencies and events of national interest, in the following categories:
- Such as human or animal health; tornados; floods; hurricanes; wildfires; tsunamis; volcanos; earthquakes; avalanches; drought; landslides. See Natural Hazards of Canada.
- Human induced
- Such as:
- Chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, explosives (CBRNE); civil disturbance (protest or demonstration); cyber threat/incident
- Ecological disaster, pollution or industrial incident; critical infrastructure interruption (power outage); hazardous material (radiological or nuclear); space launch; aviation, maritime or rail incident
- National security
- Such as the death of a federal representative while on duty; terrorism; missile launch/test; suspicious package
- Such as impact to federal buildings and services
- Major events
- Such as the G7 Summit; Pan Am, Para-Pan AM or Olympic Games
The Watch is the GOC's 24/7 centre that monitors and reports on current and/or emerging issues in Canada or internationally that could impact our national interest. Watch officers are responsible for providing analysis to senior officials, federal, provincial and territorial entities, and non-government organizations.
Watch reports can include
- Daily operations brief
These briefs come from unclassified information from departments and agencies for the official use of domestic and foreign emergency management organizations, critical infrastructure stakeholders and the emergency management community. The information contained in the daily operations briefs meet GOC reporting criteria.
Typically, operations briefs include:
- A national overview of significant Canadian weather expected over 24 hours and two to five days out
- Tropical activity that might impact the North Atlantic or the Eastern Pacific
- Space weather such as major solar storm activity and its potential impact on critical infrastructure
- Brief descriptions and updates related to new, ongoing and upcoming incidents and special events and those related to wildfires and flooding
The GOC is authorized to use satellite imagery and coordinates all RADARSAT requests for surveillance support from federal, provincial, and territorial partners that deal with emergency management issues. Aerial photos and satellite imagery are coordinated by the GOC to emergency management partners in their response and planning activities. This includes RADARSAT Constellation Mission imagery from the Canadian Space Agency, National Aerial Surveillance Program photos from Transport Canada and the activation of the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters.
Along with responding during emergencies, Geomatics also supports partners with geomatics products such as web maps, static maps, and thematic infographics for preparedness /planning activities, and provides geomatics information on emerging events. Geomatics maintains online web maps, which are a repository of authoritative data curated from partners to provide a one-stop shop for emergency management-related Geographic information system (GIS) records.
- Notifications and flash alerts
- The GOC notifications and flash alerts are reporting tools to send information about emerging incidents. Flash alerts go to senior decision-makers, primarily deputy ministers, to provide rapid information on events that have not yet met the threshold for reporting. Notifications are issued to federal, provincial and territorial emergency management partners and offices when an ongoing or emerging event of national interest meets GOC reporting criteria.
Reporting criteria and activation
Under certain circumstances and depending on the scope, the GOC will activate and may set up a formal event response team based on the following reporting criteria
- An emergency affects multiple jurisdictions and/or federal institutions or organizations and requires a coordinated response as it falls outside of routine operations
- An emergency directly affects federal assets, services, employees, statutory authority or responsibilities
- The management of an emergency exceeds the authority, responsibility or capacity of a single federal organization
- A province or territory asks for federal support to respond to an emergency that affects the national interest
- An emergency affects confidence in government or involves aspects of the national interest
Based on the size and nature of the event, the GOC could change its response level. Response levels depend on complexity and factors, such as the need for federal coordination, resources, and support. Activation levels are based on international standards and include
- Level 1 – Enhanced reporting
- The main focus is on awareness, and involves increased monitoring and reporting. When activated at this level, there is extra communication and information flow between Public Safety's regional offices, the GOC and their respective partners.
- Level 2 – Risk assessment and planning
- This level involves assessing risks, analyzing threats and their potential impacts, resource implications, and response gaps. This is when the need for possible help from the federal government is identified. Based on this assessment, an integrated response plan can be developed and partners prepare to send their experts and liaison officers to the GOC.
- Level 3 – Coordination of federal response
- At level 3, federal-national and regional-federal coordination is in effect and the GOC works with Public Safety's regional offices to address current and identify potential requests for federal assistance. It's at this level that the GOC may send liaison officers to the regional office and/or to other federal government institutions.
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