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The Cross-Sector Safety and Security Communications partnership: a lasting business resiliency legacy from London 2012

A year on from the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games there has been much discussion about the sporting and economic legacy. In this article Sally Anderson-Wai looks at a smaller, but very successful, Olympic legacy: the Cross-Sector Safety and Security Communications partnership (CSSC).

The CSSC story

For London, 2012 was unprecedented; the English capital hosted almost six million spectators, including 500,000 overseas visitors – and was closely watched by the world’s media. In the midst of the celebrations, London still had to continue its day-to-day business, cope with huge demands on its infrastructure and ensure the safety and security of London’s premises, residents and workforce.

To cope with these challenges it was realised that the public and private sectors had to work together to ensure that they could receive and share the information they needed to keep London safe, secure and operational at all times. The idea of CSSC was thus born, with the initial idea raised in a London First scoping document.

“The CSSC was ground breaking because it was a true public-private sector partnership that had never happened before on this scale. It enabled safety and security messages to reach the business community in London very quickly,” said Chris Wilson, Project Director of the CSSC during the Games (now Fraud Prevention Manager at RBS).

The CSSC project had to work to an immovable deadline, a budget of zero and needed to be based on London’s unique requirements. In 2011, a team of advisers from the London Metropolitan Police, London First and the Home Office started discussions and formed the CSSC between 25 public and private sector organizations from across London. It was inspired by previous successful initiatives, but was based purely on the goodwill of everyone working together.

The CSSC Executive chose the award-winning business continuity and communication suite, iModus, from Vocal, as its software system, because it has communication as its core function, it has an established footprint, and was already used effectively by many police forces across the country and as such, training requirements were likely to be reduced.

During pre-Olympic test exercises, it was identified that the CSSC needed an electronic audit control to see what actions had been taken and to create a manageable platform so everyone could work on the same piece of kit at the same time. Vocal was informed and created an audit log within iModus specifically for the CSSC. Data integrity was an essential mandate and so the iModus system was configured in such a way that no entries or content could ever be deleted. Every administrator collaborated on one live record to seamlessly log and track any note, comment and communication as it happened.

The CSSC Hub was at the heart of the whole operation. It was formed by police and industry specialists who were divided into four teams and who reported directly to the London Command Team’s Bronze Community Team, which had the mandate to share important messages. Decisions were made via a Bridge Call, a daily cross-sector conference call involving 30 to 50 CSSC representatives. The Business Sector Leads were on hand to consult and give feedback on the needs of industry.

Emergency notifications were sent out through iModus with a priority code of red, amber or green, according to their urgency, so that recipients could prioritise and respond accordingly, or submit questions back to the Hub and engage in conversation. The Business Sector Leads were then able to cascade approved and authoritative information to businesses within their sector.

The legacy

During the period of disruption caused by the London 2012 Olympics the CSSC kept subscribing local organizations fully informed about disruptions in their physical area and operational sector and helped them initiate the appropriate business continuity measures to enable business-as-usual to be maintained.

The success of the CSSC was apparent during the Games but was also retrospectively recognised with the recent presentation of the 2013 CIR Business Continuity Award for the Best Contribution to Continuity and Resilience during 2012.

However, the story doesn’t stop there. The CSSC is alive and well, keeping London’s businesses informed about any potential threats that arise and providing a tried and tested model for other cities around the world to follow.

More details about the CSSC can be found here.

•Date:26th July 2013 • UK •Type: Article • Topic: Crisis communications

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