Arctic Frontiers Abroad: A Seminar on Space Technology for a Smart and Resilient Arctic


Monday 11 June, 2018



Monday 11 June, 2018


The Wilson Center, Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC, USA


A program hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center, Polar Initiative, the Norwegian Embassy, and Arctic Frontiers.

The seminar will be streamed. Click here to follow the streaming 08.30 am (EDT) or 14.30 Norwegian time (CEST).

The Arctic continues to change at a rapid pace with northern communities experiencing social, political, environmental, and economic impacts of such change. With over four million residents above the Arctic Circle, and many millions more living in the Arctic region, including indigenous peoples, the communities of the North are looking to a broad range of balanced economic development, the application of new and applicable technologies, and opportunities to shape their future.

The availability and application of new and innovative technologies will be critical components of building and maintaining a future Arctic where inclusion, balanced economic development, and informed decision-making should be the norm. Dependable and affordable telecommunications are still a challenge throughout the Arctic – yet such connectivity is essential to equitable educational opportunities, health care, workforce development, resource development, subsistence activities, marine transportation, search and rescue, oil spill preparedness and prevention, research, and environmental monitoring, to name just a few. Arctic communities require both terrestrial and space-based infrastructure that enables them to connect with the world outside the Arctic – as well as with other regions within the Arctic.

The importance of satellite technology in the Arctic cannot be overstated. Norway is a world leader in this respect, with major facilities for reading signals from satellites on Svalbard and a number of vehicles in space. The “smart Arctic,” where communities are connected and can cooperate in areas such as education or medicine is vision shared by all Arctic nations.

Experts from private industry, academia, government, and Arctic communities will explore these important issues by considering the following questions:

How can we better connect the Arctic – through space technology, terrestrial communication systems, and the resulting development and exchange of expertise and knowledge? How can space-based technologies contribute to more sustainable Arctic communities and a greening of Arctic economies? What role can space technology play in monitoring and surveillance, and contributing to the currently level cooperation in the Arctic?

The objective of this program to a) showcase the role of satellite technologies in current Arctic connectivity infrastructures and b) discuss how infrastructures and connectivity can be further enhanced by new technologies and their deployment.

  • 8:00am: Registration of Participants and Welcome Coffee
  • 8:25am: Welcome Remarks, Dr. Mike Sfraga, Director, Polar Initiative, Wilson Center
  • 8:30am: Keynote Remarks, H.E. Kåre R. Aas, Ambassador of Norway to the United States of America
  • 8:50am: Introductory Remarks, Dr. Mike Sfraga, Director, Polar Initiative, Wilson Center & Mr. Ole Øvretveit, Director, Arctic Frontiers

9:00am: Session 1: The Role of Satellite Technologies in the Arctic


  • Professor Michael Byers, University of British Columbia
  • Mr. Sean Helfrich, Office of Satellite and Product Operations, NOAA
  • Mr. Eirik Sivertsen, Chair, Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic (SCPAR)
  • Mr. Rolf Skatteboe, CEO, Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT)
  • Mr. Rune Sandbakken, Head, Satellite Communications, Norwegian Space Centre


  • Dr. Nettie LaBelle-Hamer, Director, Alaska Satellite Facility, Geophysical Institute, UAF

10:00am: Session 2: Business Opportunities in a Better Connected Arctic


  • Mr. Douglas May, Arctic Council Task Force on Improved Connectivity, U.S. State Department
  • Ms. Tina Pidgeon, Vice President, GCI
  • Mr. Mead Treadwell, Chair, Iridium Polar Advisory Board
  • Mr. Geir Westgaard, Vice President Political & Public Affairs, Equinor

11:00am: Concluding Remarks, Senator Lisa Murkowski, United States Senator for Alaska & Mr. Eirik Sivertsen, Chair, Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic (SCPAR)


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