| 25 July 2013
In one year, the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games will be taking place and the organisers hope the ground-breaking Cross-Sector Safety and Security Communications partnership concept (CSSC) will maintain safety and security, as it did during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The first of its kind; the award-winning CSSC partnership between the Police, Government, Vocal Limited and industry unites businesses and business networks proved to be successful during the Queen’s Jubilee and the Games.
A part of the legacy of the Olympic Games, the CSSC concept is now being developed in Scotland ahead of the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Police Scotland, Scottish Government Resilience, the Scottish Business Resilience Centre and private sector partners are all working together to deliver this important structure for Scotland. The longer term aim is to continue the partnership after the Games.
Johanna Buchanan, Project Manager for CSSC Scotland says, “We are delighted to be developing the CSSC communications hub for Scotland and look forward to the benefits it will bring to businesses and organisations across the country”.
The idea for the CSSC first arose in the Spring of 2011 when a team of advisers from London Metropolitan Police, London First and the Home Office started discussions and recognised that there needed to be a working partnership established between London’s key sectors to create a continuity and resilience communications vehicle that would extend from government and emergency services, through to infrastructure and industry. A resilience partnership between the capital’s public and private sectors had been attempted several times before without success, but the timing and the reason were right.
‘Never had that level of commitment affecting and benefitting millions of people around London and beyond, happened before,’ said Chris Wilson, Project Director of the CSSC during the London 2012 Games (now Fraud Prevention Manager at RBS). The initial CSSC partnership included 25 business sectors across London, who were chosen in September 2011 for their security and continuity experience and potential reach. The partnership then had only eight months to create a brand and website, build the CSSC infrastructure, develop partnerships, source software, create a communications platform and deliver training to all parties involved.
‘We were given a communications tool and told to make it happen,’ said Steve Lemon, who is in charge of SO20s business engagement. ‘We took advice from top people like John Smith, from Prudential, and Don Randall, of the Bank of England.
‘Part of the vision was that businesses could speak to the police about pertinent issues and pose pertinent questions. With the CSSC, we can go into the heart of the operation and find the people that we need to speak to. Then public communications can be adapted quickly, according to current activities, such as public order events recently.’
A business continuity and communication platform was sought and the CSSC Executive chose the award-winning suite, iModus, from Vocal Ltd., because communication is its core function, it also has an established footprint as a secure communications and management system and was already used effectively by many police forces across the country and as such, training requirements were likely to be reduced. iModus was the perfect fit for the CSSC requirements offering flexibility, reliability, performance and support, and delivering a fully integrated business continuity suite encompassing Notification, Planning, Mapping, Alerting, Staff Safety and Incident Management Modules. The CSSC could be confident that even if IT systems were to fail, iModus would be able to continue operating on a series of platforms and guarantee 100% uptime.
Trevor Wheatley-Perry, Managing Director of Vocal, said: ‘We knew we needed to work quickly to fine-tune the iModus modules we would be implementing and complete training and test exercises. Our previous work with the private and public sectors and the emergency services provided us with valuable experience and insight into workable solutions across the board for this unique project.’
As several people would be working on the iModus platform at the same time, it was identified during the Olympic test exercises that the CSSC needed an electronic audit control to see what actions had been taken. Vocal was informed and created an audit log within iModus specifically for the CSSC. Should records ever need to be produced, data integrity was an essential mandate, and the CSSC iModus system was devised so no entries or content could ever be deleted and so were protected. Every administrator would be collaborating on one live record to seamlessly log and track any note, comment and communication as it happened.
In addition to sharing information through iModus, the vision of the CSSC was that businesses would have a dedicated platform to speak to each other and key public sector personnel about relevant issues, and so the CSSC Hub was formed and located at Windsor House, Victoria, during the 2012 games. Police, alongside industry specialists, were divided into four teams, who reported directly to the London Command Team’ s Bronze Community Team, which had the mandate to share important messages using iModus. Vocal devised Bridge Call which allows up to 150 Business Sector representatives to brainstorm issues.
‘You had authoritative voices from business on hand to think like business people, look at impacts, consult and feedback the needs of industry using iModus to the people at all levels, including management and practitioner,’ said Steve.
The sharing of important communications was simple using iModus. Emergency notifications were prioritised and sent out as red, amber or green codes, according to their urgency. On receiving them, recipients could respond accordingly, submit questions back to representatives on the Hub for further discussion or cascade them within their business sector. One message could be sent to 7.5 million people at the same time.
Following its success during the Games, the CSSC and Vocal recently won at the Business Continuity Awards the Best Contribution to Continuity and Resilience trophy for creating a new communications infrastructure using iModus for London leading up to the London 2012 Olympic Games, and it is easy to see why. The Metropolitan Police is continuing to use the CSSC and iModusas a communications vehicle and has sent out pre-planning messages on: the TUC March and Rally (last October), the Student March (last October), the Helicopter Crash at Battersea; Operation True Blue, during Baroness Thatcher's Funeral, the State opening of Parliament, the May Day protests, the Woolwich incident and the G8 protest activity.
The CSSC works closely with the National Fraud Investigation Bureau, counter terrorism and protective security sections of the Police, and has sent out advice on various matters where security was at risk. Last December, a message was distributed on ‘The 10 Frauds of Christmas’. The team also messaged the six London boroughs when a team was using a particular method to gain access into banks. The CSSC also sent messages out when a gang were breaking into commercial premises to steal deep fat fryers. ‘In a minority of cases the premises were left in a dangerous state,’ said Steve, ‘so we provided a strategic overview for security.’
Commander Richard Morris, Specialist Operations, said: "The CSSC is a unique partnership and I am delighted that it has been recognised with the CIR award for Best Contribution to Continuity and Resilience.
"It is vital that businesses are kept up to date with the latest safety and security information so that they can help keep their employees and customers safe. The CSSC is a really useful channel of communication in this regard."
Through the CSSC partnership, London’s public and private sectors rose to the challenge using iModus. They came together for the first time working as one for the greater good and delivered business continuity methodology that will shape countless future endeavours.
Chris Wilson, concluded: ‘To say that this was a ground breaking project is an understatement. This was a true public/private sector partnership that had never happened before on this scale. What we jointly achieved was to enable safety and security messages to reach every sector of the business community in London very quickly through iModus. Without this partnership between high levels of government, police and private sector individuals it would simply not have been possible. The CSSC partnership used an unprecedented level of commitment and goodwill to affect and benefit millions of people around London and beyond. Our shared vision to work in partnership, along with our commitment to succeed, has changed the face of how security services can communicate with the public sector, and has gained recognition not just in London but around the world.‘