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London Olympics Webinar Extra: Q&A with Steve Yates

December 15, 2019 Leave a comment DRI Admin

With so much information to get through in our recent webinar on managing mega-events like the 2012 London Olympics, we couldn’t find any time for questions! But presenter Steve Yates was happy to answer the questions you sent in for a special webinar Q&A supplement.

Q: What are you doing to prepare for the eventual Queen’s passing?

SY: I am not personally involved in this, however the learning points from our Queen Mother’s funeral, for an event that will be bigger and as “global” as the Olympics, but any “disruption” will be shorter in length of time.

Q: Should BCM be part of an ERM manager’s job responsibilities?

SY: Yes, in fact our Civil Protection authorities at a local level in the UK have added this to their responsibilities, more so as it provides protection for the resources of a Civil Authority/Government Agency, and identifies a state of readiness for significant disruption and/or physically damaging events.

Q: How did you test your strategy and train staff to perform responsibilities normally not encountered with their daily routine?

SY: Good question, I was involved in the whole exercise/test programme for London 2012, through the construction, fitting out of venues and pre-Games time period, that ended with a London Wide exercise “Green Altius”, something which tested all aspects of London’s ability to respond to an event that if not properly managed could lead to its evacuation. So, as the resources were continually changing, it became a mandatory requirement to train the resources at a local, national and international level, based upon the “identified risk”, something which is covered in my presentation.

Q: Considering all AI evolution and drones self-piloted, or even remotely, in your opinion what kind of defense strategy could an aviation company plan to implement avoiding or trying to reduce its exposition to a catastrophic disaster?

SY: In the case of London 2012 it was decided during Games Time to establish a “no-fly” zone over Central London and Olympic Venues. Since recent events within the UK a more responsive capability is now in place for Airports, whilst other areas of Critical National Infrastructure are in the process of gaining protection against such a threat.

Q: Which were the key factors to get all the groups involved in this planning?

SY: Another good question. I can only comment on the Olympic Delivery Authority, and my belief is that when you selected to work on something which could be a “once-in-a-lifetime” event, with a delivery date that cannot be changed, then the driver for involvement in any planning has already been established. One comment, always meant to carry out some research on this area, during London 2012 we went through two (2) “Pandemic” situations/alerts, when some 750,000 people a week were calling the UK National Pandemic Helpline, yet the highest level of sickness in the Olympic Delivery Authority at this time was 1% of staff, explain this?

Q: How has the landscape evolved within the last three to five years and what might be on the horizon (3-5 years from now)?

Wow, another good question, there are two ways of answering this question; positively and negatively? From a positive direction, the “Legacy” direction of London 2012 was well documented, and continues to be delivered, whether through support for “security by design” and “risk management”. From a negative response, there is a need to consider “what-if” more aligned with “investment”, whilst considering an “Operational Resilience” approach to our subject matter responsibilities.

Q: What process did you enact to obtain consensus on the UK’s “risk appetite” .  What artifact was produced to document the decision on risk level.  In our litigious society, it is often difficult to have leadership make a decision on risk appetite.

SY: My webinar does cover our Risk Appetite during London 2012, and refer to our Safety and Security Strategy. With regard to our “litigious Society”, it was “beyond-my-paygrade”!

Q: Who handles risk management, crisis and BCM on events like the Olympic Games? Are there laws for this?

SY: My webinar does touch on this area, basically the International Olympic Committee (IOC) does cover in their “How to deliver an Olympic Games” some advice on Emergency Management and Security, and the responsibilities for the Host Nation. So, within the UK an Olympic Act was passed by our Parliament, and the role of the Olympic Delivery Authority was to deliver this, hence my role. Hope this provides some direction for you?

Q: How do you see the evolution of risks specific to Olympic games? Cyber risks considered as major?

SY: London 2012 considered a range of risks, as will be covered in my webinar, with an aim to create a “high reliability” organization. With this in mind, we prepared for Cyber-attacks at our Critical National Infrastructure and supporting Technology elements, and yes, this preparation was tested during the Games.

Q: To which extent were insider threats on the mind of the organisation for London 2012 Olympics?

SY: My answer to the question would be that we are “British”! At that time everyone went through a Security Services clearance process, dependent on their role and responsibilities, and if they were found out, we had a “firing-squad” ready, okay they “left” the programme.