Volume 2: Views and information from organisations




НазваниеVolume 2: Views and information from organisations
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Peter Hulme Cross (AM): Okay, and that is going to be common to a number of emergency services?

Richard Bobbett (Director of Network Operations, O2 Airwave): Yes, all of the police forces in England, Scotland and Wales are currently customers of Airwave and use the network. Just recently, all of the English ambulance trusts, through the Department of Health (DH), are coming on.

Richard Barnes (Chair): It is going to be a national standard.

Richard Bobbett (Director of Network Operations, O2 Airwave): As I commented earlier, the Fire Link contract, which again is for the English fire brigades, have just announced their preferred selection is to use the Airwave system. It is a national network available and dedicated to all of the emergency services.

Peter Hulme Cross (AM): Presumably, it is secure.

Richard Bobbett (Director of Network Operations, O2 Airwave): It is absolutely secure. The TETRA system has a level of security. In addition to that, you can also deploy an end-to-end encryption, which is a small device that goes in each terminal that will actually encrypt the transmission through to the other end.

Anne-Marie Molloy (Head of Business Continuity, Vodafone): I just wanted to mention in talking about communications methods and alternate methods, one of the areas that we have decided to put greater emphasis on is rehearsal for events of the kind that happened in July, because we believe that through frequent rehearsal in a very structured way, we will be much better prepared. We are recommending that to our major customers who, similar to BT, are working with us more closely and have greater interest in this area than they had previously and also that we are demanding it of our suppliers. My recommendation is that that is a very good practice for all businesses and large organisations, to really step up the rate of rehearsal.

Richard Barnes (Chair): Including your industry itself?

Anne-Marie Molloy (Head of Business Continuity, Vodafone): Absolutely, yes.

Richard Barnes (Chair): I recognise that there are commercial differences between you but some things are beyond commerciality, I would guess.

Mark Hughes (Group Security Director, BT): I think it is a point worth echoing again about how we work with each other and again that mix of ways of communicating. None of the things we have really said today in terms of 7 July, in terms of how it relates to specific business and even the general public is any different. As we were talking about before, voice over the Internet, broadband voice is going to be potentially a key part of how the public would want to or would be able to establish communications in the future. There are many more options available to them now and will be in the future.

Richard Barnes (Chair): Can I ask you all to just identify what you believe a key lesson that you learnt over 7 July and, if relevant, 21 July, to your own particular industries as we draw this to a close? You mentioned that if an exchange went down, you could route round it. On the day, technically, the system was still up and running. It was not broken. I would hate to say what would actually break the system and how would you cope, which is the doomsday scenario, I suppose, in industry terms.

Mark Hughes (Group Security Director, BT): It was obviously an extreme situation for the time but the proactive measures that we put in place worked and managed the overload, if you want, that we experienced. I think the first learning point that we make is that working collaboratively is absolutely essential and we did and we must get better at that through frequent rehearsals. Being as one as an industry is essential because the way in which – I think we have made clear – the calls are placed around the network involves all of us. The collective nature of it is essential. I think that is the first thing and that worked and will work again in the future. Then, the second lesson I think is the fact that, coming back to the general issue about getting communications, is who are the people who really need to be able to establish communications with whom and therefore what are the systems that need to be in place to support that necessity. Subsequent to that, there are many different options available in the marketplace amongst us in the industry that the industry has to offer to be able to support that requirement.

David Corry (Head of Obligations and Emergency Planning Policy, BT): I really cannot add anything on the BT side but I was actually at Gold on the day, representing the industry.

Richard Barnes (Chair): Was that based at Hendon?

David Corry (Head of Obligations and Emergency Planning Policy, BT): Yes.

Richard Barnes (Chair): You managed to get there?

David Corry (Head of Obligations and Emergency Planning Policy, BT): Yes. I think one of the lessons for me is that I need to understand in more detail what the other players do. I think there is a need for some form of training. I was aware of my role and I was aware of the various names of the players there but I think we could do more on the training so we each understand what each other does at the Gold Command. That was the lesson for me and we are actually pushing that message.

Michael Strefford (Head of Technology Policy, Security and Assurance, Vodafone): I think I would back up all the points raised so far. I think the one I would choose to add, the key lesson that came out of the day, is about the communication aspect of it, because it was apparent to us – exactly as you said – that we were making communications that we hoped were getting out but nobody was actually seeing them come up on the news or anywhere like that. Somehow, we have to address that. We made a conscious decision to not make the situation even worse on our own network by trying to proactively communicate with 15 million customers across the UK, which was realistically the only thing we could choose to do but somehow we have to, as an industry, get better at that because it would have helped us all. It would have helped the general public. Perhaps if they had seen that message then they would have understood. On the day, we had a number of people coming into Vodafone stores saying, ‘My phone is not working.’ Explanation. ‘Ah, cool. Okay, of course, I understand why my phone is not working. I do not have a problem with that.’ They walk out completely satisfied but somehow that message has to get out there in a much more proactive and a much more effective way.

Anne-Marie Molloy (Head of Business Continuity, Vodafone): I have nothing to add beyond just to say that one of the areas that we have definitely learnt from and are acting on is that the formalised crisis response is necessary. On 7 July, we were very satisfied with the way that we responded on the day but that we have chosen to formalise and to proceduralise many of things that we did and discovered during the day. We have put that into place and rehearsed that right up to board level now.

David Sutton (Network Continuity and Restoration Manager, O2): We have taken a very similar approach to Vodafone. We have actually proceduralised some of the things that we have been taking for granted. Things that were business as usual are now part of a high-level checklist that the network management centre will use in the event of incidents like this. We also agree with BT the need for industry exercise and communication across the industry group. We have our next industry exercise planned for towards the end of January and we are meeting again next week to plan the final phase of that exercise. The other thing that I think that struck us was, as a result of the incident, we were requested to provide some assistance to Westminster Council and the Metropolitan Police for the Bereavement Centre, which was set up initially in a sports centre in Victoria and latterly at the Royal Horticultural Halls.

Richard Barnes (Chair): That is the family assistance centre?

David Sutton (Network Continuity and Restoration Manager, O2): Indeed, yes. We were able to provide some handsets and indeed to put some equipment in the buildings to improve the signal quality in there. I think what came out of that was a feeling that we need to be conscious that we not only have to preserve the integrity of the networks but we have to support the emergency services and the other services who back them up when it comes to supporting the public and be conscious that we have to put that before any commercial interests.

Richard Bobbett (Director of Network Operations, O2 Airwave): The Airwave system was built for the emergency services and we believed it coped very well on the day and certainly a lot of the testing and trials that we have done proved their worth. I think from a key learning perspective, over the next two years, we shall be bringing on the ambulance service and the fire service onto the Airwave system and the key for us is ensuring that the right processes and protocols exist so that interoperability between those services is effective, so that we do not create chaos by having interoperability that is not appropriate and whether that be through a Gold Command level or through Silver and Bronze right down to individual operatives working at the scene, that the system has the ability to be partitioned and structured in many different ways. The key for us is making sure that we work with all of our customers to learn from these types of events how we can best use the system.

Richard Barnes (Chair): O2 talks about the access overload at Aldgate East. Do you know how many calls were actually lost or barred during that period or is that a number which you could never, ever estimate?

David Sutton (Network Continuity and Restoration Manager, O2): We could never estimate that but if you go on the figures that we have heard earlier, over the period of, what, about four or five hours when the system was out, we would probably expect to have lost several hundred thousand probably maybe even above a million calls.

Richard Barnes (Chair): You took the decision to reinstate the system or did City of London Police say, ‘We no longer need it.’

David Sutton (Network Continuity and Restoration Manager, O2): The request came from City of London Police at about half past four to take it off again, so we did it at their request. Otherwise, it would have been left on until requested.

Keith Wallis (Business Continuity Manager, Cable & Wireless): Just a final point, although from an industry point of view and from a TIEPF point of view, in all of the post-analysis we were quite pleased with the way that the industry handled the event. I think the overriding feeling among the industry is there is no place for complacency and we will continue to look for improvements in the emergency plan. We have made changes since 7 July particularly around the concept of being proactive in terms of threats as opposed to waiting for physical damage to the network. As has already been mentioned, we will be exercising those improvements for the plan in January.

Richard Barnes (Chair): Thank you very much. Just for clarity, the 300,000 calls per 15 minutes, which it peaked at: was that mobile and landline or just mobile?

Keith Wallis (Business Continuity Manager, Cable & Wireless): That was purely Cable & Wireless delivering calls to Vodafone. That was one landline operator to one mobile operator. That was a similar picture across all of the mobile networks. Richard Barnes (Chair): Do you know what your figure was for Vodafone? Is it possible to get it and to supply it later?

Michael Strefford (Head of Technology Policy, Security and Assurance, Vodafone): Absolutely, I am sure some sort of figures can be provided to you in terms of total volume.

Richard Barnes (Chair): Similarly, if O2 has got a figure later, that would help.

David Corry (Head of Obligations and Emergency Planning Policy, BT): BT I think is the other fixed operator. I mean, it was of the same order for us as well. It was of the same order as Cable & Wireless.

Richard Barnes (Chair): You went up to roughly 300,000 calls per 15 minutes?

Mark Hughes (Group Security Director, BT): That is just purely the amount of calls being offered to the mobile network. On our network itself, we experienced about twice the demand that we normally experience.

Richard Barnes (Chair): Yes, but I do not know what your normal demand is.

Mark Hughes (Group Security Director, BT): It is millions of calls at any one time, with our network. I can get the precise figures for you. I do not have them.

Richard Barnes (Chair): If you could let us have it because that is what certainly I and Londoners understand and it just puts it in true perspective.

Mark Hughes (Group Security Director, BT): Just to re-emphasise, on the actual 020 7 and 020 8 range for landlines, we did not instigate any call gapping. There was no requirement for that.

Richard Barnes (Chair): No, you coped.

Mark Hughes (Group Security Director, BT): Yes.

Peter Hulme Cross (AM): Presumably, you are talking about number of calls here because calls and traffic are two different things.

Richard Barnes (Chair): I appreciate that but this is numbers of times that people tried to access the system.

Peter Hulme Cross (AM): Okay, fine.

David Sutton (Network Continuity and Restoration Manager, O2): Certainly from an O2 perspective, we do know that on a normal working day in London, we would normally handle about 7,000,000 calls and on 7 July we handled 11,000,000, which is almost 60% above the normal level and, of course, that does not take into account the number of calls which did not connect.

Richard Barnes (Chair): No. Colossal figures, are they not?

David Sutton (Network Continuity and Restoration Manager, O2): It is a colossal figure and we handled an extra 20% of text message traffic nationally.

Richard Barnes (Chair): An extra 20%?

David Sutton (Network Continuity and Restoration Manager, O2): 20% of texts. That is nationally and probably a same order in the London area.

Richard Barnes (Chair): Colossal figures. Thank you very much indeed for coming in. It has been a very interesting afternoon and you have raised issues, which we will need to take up elsewhere as well but thank you very much indeed.

[Adjournment] Richard Barnes (Chair): Thank you very much indeed for coming, gentlemen, for part two of our session. I gather you sat through the first part so you understand where we are broadly coming from. It is, how communications go to industry and what industry demands and expects, that clearly is a major issue. Hence, as we saw, the question to the telephone industry about Operation Griffin, which I understand is a major operation, which the Corporation of London and industry is proud of and yet they seem to have no knowledge of it. Can you tell us, what are the immediate information requirements of business and people in major incidents such as this?

Colin Stanbridge (Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry): It is obviously incredibly difficult in situations like that. In a previous life, I was a journalist involved in covering things like the Brighton bomb and being there in the midst of those incidents and you understand the huge difficulties in terms of getting a coherent message out to – not just in terms of journalism but also to the public – about what to do. My feeling was that on the day itself, the message to stay in, as it were, or stay in your offices, got through to everybody. In our case, actually, in the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s, we are on the pager system in the City and that worked extremely well but the message was getting across via, I think, the most important medium, which happens to be news on radio and television.

To my mind, the major lesson to be learned from 7 July is, we need to be very clear what those messages are going to be and those messages need to be as clear as possible, given the terrible chaos that we are probably going to have in any subsequent incident. I think where, if one was looking for problems that came out of 7 July and lessons to be learnt, it would be that there was a mixed message in terms of later in the day. When it came to 2.30, three o’clock in the afternoon, where people, because they were watching television and that is where the majority, especially my members, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were getting their information, if they were in central London or in the vicinity, they would know that the Tube and the buses were not working but they would also know that the over-ground, the rail network was working.

Therefore, the message to stay in becomes one that needs to be clarified about, is it time, can we send our people home? I know that was a problem for us in the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry as a small business. What was happening, it appeared to me – and I was stuck at home because I had been to a meeting in Hammersmith and I live in Chiswick and could not get into the centre of town and so I was watching television – what you got was Sir Ian Blair’s (Metropolitan Police Commissioner) interview of the midmorning being replayed – as it would be – all the way through the day. Therefore, there was I think for a time in the middle of the afternoon, a mixed message there, which I think it is easy to see with hindsight but I think that is a major lesson. If you are going to rely, as you must do, on national media and local media, you have got to make sure that you understand the way that works. Having done that sort of thing in television, if you have got an interview with the Commissioner of Police on that day, you will keep running that story until you get an updated interview or an interview with somebody more important. It is hard to think who that more important person is. I think that the police have to learn that if they want to change the message, if there is a different message, you need to get it out there and you probably need to get it out to the media.

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