The RCMP plans to spend thousands of dollars a day to send continuous video surveillance footage out of the remote Kananaskis resort during this June's G8 summit.
The force has ordered three satellite uplink trucks -- normally used by television stations to broadcast live from out-of-the-way places -- for 24-hour use before, during and after the summit in Alberta.
The Mounties are tight-lipped about exactly how they plan to employ the pricey technology, but one broadcasting expert said the truck would probably feed pictures back to some kind of RCMP war room directing the massive security effort -- at a cost easily exceeding $10,000 a day per truck.
"We have to communicate back and forth with our command centre," said Corporal Patrick Webb, the Mounties' spokesman for the summit.
"It's all part of our security requirement and we're not about to tell you why we're going to use it."
The RCMP is assembling one of the largest security efforts ever seen in Canada for the G8 gathering at the mountainous Kana-naskis resort near Calgary, with costs estimated at $100-million or more.
Not only do such international summits have a history in recent years of huge protests that can turn violent, but the threat of terrorism looms large in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
But one critic of the G8 governments called the extensive video surveillance system a case of overkill that's designed to put a chill on even peaceful protesters.
"By using the latest technology, by spending more and more money on surveillance and on monitoring of legal protest activity, it just creates a situation where activists are increasingly warned by the government not to participate in protests," said David Robbins of the Council of Canadians.
Uplink trucks enable users to send video pictures to and from virtually anywhere in the world by bouncing signals off a satellite to a ground receiving dish.
A tender released by the RCMP calls for three trucks. One would be stationed permanently at Kananaskis Village, while two others would be available to roam between Calgary, Canmore, Banff and Kananaskis, tender documents say.
One vehicle is to transmit video around the clock from June 24 to June 29. Another is to be available for 24-hour-a-day transmission in the same period and a third is to be available from June 17 to June 29.
Such trucks can be leased for $2,000 to 3,000 a day, while satellite transmission time costs an additional $500 to $1,000 an hour, said John McEwen, a technical producer with Global-TV in Toronto.
The RCMP would have to order 24-hour satellite access in advance, paying for it whether the force used all the time or not, said Mr. McEwen, who arranges satellite access for Global's news crews.
Based on the lower end of his cost estimates and specifications outlined in the tender, the RCMP is looking at a price tag of more than $300,000 for its broadcasting venture.
Mr. McEwen said his experience suggests the Mounties' video material would be fed into a central command room, where senior officers could monitor activities at hot spots.
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