New tech to improve comms, remote sensing in Arctic
by Vivienne Machi (feat. Charity Weeden)
National Defence Magazine
May 29, 2018
The United States and partner nations are exploring new remote sensing and communication technologies to improve situational awareness and connectivity in the Arctic region.
Operating without sufficient communications tools is “arguably more dangerous in the Arctic than in many other places, given the vast distances, risky operating conditions, small population and very limited infrastructure,” according to a 2018 Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center report titled, “Identifying Potential Gaps in U.S. Coast Guard Arctic Capabilities.” The center is operated by the RAND Corp. under a contract with the Department of Homeland Security.
Operators in the Arctic currently rely on voice communications via existing radios and some satellite capabilities, including the Iridium Communications constellation, which operates in low-Earth orbit and provides global voice and data satellite coverage. The Navy’s mobile user objective system communications satellites can also assist with coverage in the Arctic, but they are not yet available to the Coast Guard, according to the report. Cell phone communications are extremely limited, and data transmission is even more challenging.