At the recent Resilience Conference in Ottawa, Canada, Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure participated in a panel discussion titled, “Managing Emerging Threats to Critical Infrastructure.” Along with representatives from General Dynamics and the Conference Board of Canada, the panel expanded on improving collaboration between emergency management, public safety officials, and critical infrastructure providers. As an attendee of the conference, here are my observations.
People, Process, and Technology
The primary theme of the panel’s discussion focused on how organizations can build resilience into people, processes, and technology, enabling a quicker response to emergency or crisis situations as well as more efficient post-event review and analysis. When the panel spoke about infrastructure resilience, and gave examples using people, processes, and technology, the conversation always came back to training and exercises. Your people, processes, and technology are only as good as you prepare them to be. When broken down into each element, it’s easier to recognize:
- People – First Responders: They require training for their day-to-day jobs, so this is something they are familiar with. As a group, they become more resilient and more apt to respond better if they recognize the scenario.
- Process – Training and Exercises: The difficulty with events or crises comes from the diversity of skills and capabilities among agency departments as well as the diversity within other agencies involved. So, if there is moretraining with every agency involved with an event, responses can be quicker and more coordinated when it’s time to move into action. Bringing everyone together for exercises also helps everyone recognize the gaps they have within their processes that need to be addressed.
- Technology – It should support your people and processes: Test it! The recommendation from all of the panelists was to try and overwhelm your technology and see if it can work in all situations. The goal is to use technology to make life easier, so if it’s suddenly more difficult during an event, it’s not being used properly within the process or with regard to the people using it. Training and exercises will help the people and processes with your technology.
Organizations need to leverage technology where they can and where it makes sense. Technology should help break down communication barriers and departmental silos so that everyone has the same version of the truth. That means that interoperability matters. We already see that with our customers today. Integration and interoperability are not only important when it’s an emergency event, but with day-to-day technology too. We should also embrace the multiple ways people use technology to communicate. Not just within an organization, but looking at how the public communicates through social media and smart phones.
To learn more about where Hexagon fits within the resilience conversation, and how they can help make your city, province, or state safer, check out our Safe Cities solutions. There you’ll find videos, brochures, case studies, and white papers, which talk about our strategies to make cities safer and more resilient.