CSSC – A partnership for safer cities
Recently officially launched as a charity at a Gala dinner in the City of London, Cross-sector Safety and Security Communications (CSSC) is continuing to extend its reach. In this article, Graham Tucker, Project Manager, explains the background and detailed workings of this innovative project.
CSSC was founded partly to ensure businesses could continue to operate efficiently during the Olympics and to be prepared in the event of a major security incident, but also to ensure that in the future, London and the UK had a partnership-based framework to communicate with businesses, help them address resilience and emergency preparedness issues and bring together public and private sector to work cohesively and cooperatively.
The initiative is now firmly established in London, and the restructured post-Olympics Hub team is working hard on national rollout. CSSC Scotland is already in place in preparation for the Commonwealth Games, and we even have expressions of interest from outside the UK by countries wishing to emulate the CSSC model.
Sir David Veness CBE QPM, one of the founders of CSSC says, “I am delighted with this momentum, and even more so as our efforts have been recognised at the Business Continuity Awards 2013, held on 30 May at which CSSC was awarded Best Contribution to Continuity & Resilience, beating some formidable competition.”
CSSC featured highly in a very detailed report entitled ‘Applying The Security Lessons Of London 2012’ that was published on 19 April 2013. One of the key lessons learned was that there is no need for a huge budget. The CSSC was made up of volunteers from 24 private and public sectors, and from 29 different industry sectors. During London 2012, these volunteers worked together as one team and every day a call was made to all sectors. Another key lesson was to help your neighbours, whether large or small. The CSSC worked with everyone from the International Liaison Unit for the needs of the international community to TfL for local transport movement.
The CSSC Hub – So how does the CSSC actually work?
At the centre of the project is the “CSSC Hub”, which acts as the interface between those who have information and those who need to receive it. The Hub is in permanent direct contact with the police and other authorities and the Industry Sector Leaders from the various business groups, trade organisations and major individual businesses.
Updates flowing from the authorities can be shared quickly with the relevant business contacts who, in turn, cascade the information quickly through to their own networks, which, in the case of larger firms, may well include nearby smaller businesses that do not have formal business continuity or security functions.
Since the Olympic Games, the Hub has become a virtual communications network, maintaining contact and providing advice about ongoing threats and risks, while maintaining the facility to ‘stand up’ the communications hub when circumstances demand.
A new CSSC Scotland Hub has been created for the run-up to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. It is intended to create other regional hubs in the future, and the project is being exported to India, South Africa, Australia, Hong Kong and Canada.
The Bank of England
The Bank of England has been at the heart of the CSSC project since its beginning and it remains so to this day. The fact that it is seen as a neutral non-profit making organisation within the corporate world has enabled it to carry out many of the important functions without being questioned about advertising or commercial gain. The Bank of England security control room has provided a 24/7 service for hosting the ‘Conference Bridge calls’ and has the ability to send out calendar invites to calls and ‘Imodus’ messages to the ISLs within minutes of being requested.
Industry Sector Leaders
The Industry Sector Leader (ISL) role is fundamental to the CSSC concept and structure. Each business sector is now represented by one or more ISLs and the successful delivery relies on having committed and effective ISLs who are able to:
- Share and disseminate safety and security messages.
- Represent their specific industry sector or member organisation and act as a conduit between that sector and the CSSC hub.
- Act as a focal point for their sector, gathering information on issues affectingbusiness, sharing good practice and information amongst their sector networks and passing relevant information back to the hub.
- Promote the work of CSSC at industry events and extend reach as far as possiblewithin their sector.
The CSSC project currently has over 190 ISLs and deputies spread over 29 business sectors, who cascade information through their various business links, trade organisations and contacts. The potential reach for CSSC messaging is nearly 8 million people throughout the nation.
Role of Business
Business involvement in the project has included several organisations seconding their own staff to the CSSC project team, under the chairmanship of Sir David Veness, as well as representatives from individual firms and sectors contributing to its strategy and management.
Although the CSSC project has focused on London, the business representatives and associations that comprise the network are local, national and international and the model could be replicated in any city. London business is made up of 80% of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). It is these SMEs that CSSC communicates with, and the two-way communication is a key element.
Until CSSC was created there had been no other way for the majority of businesses to communicate with law enforcement, the Home Office, the Mayor’s office, Government, or London Resilience, etc.
The unique point about the CSSC project is that the information flow is two-way.
A key lesson from the geographically widespread disorder in August 2011 and a number of international terrorist incidents in recent years has been the importance of a two way flow of information.
Through the Hub, real-time information can be fed back, supporting the authorities in their efforts and helping optimise the use of resources. There are also on-line resources to help businesses prepare to mitigate specific risks.
CSSC Methods of communication include:
Conference Bridge calls
For serious or urgent incidents, at the request of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), or any of the recognised authorities, an invitation to all the Industry Sector Leaders can be sent out, via the CSSC Hub team, asking them to join an urgent unscheduled telephone ‘Conference Bridge call’. This can be achieved within an hour.
During the lead-up to major events or on occasions when advanced notice can be given, a scheduled ‘Conference call’ can be arranged and these are usually timed for the day before the event.
Recent bridge calls were held prior to the Baroness Thatcher funeral, and before the ‘G8’ demonstrations. The MPS also made use of the scheduled telephone conference bridge call system following the week of G8, to gain feedback from Industry Sector leaders, about the Police handling of the public disorder.
This exemplifies the unique two-way flow of information within the CSSC.
‘Vocal’ Imodus messaging
The ‘Vocal’ Imodus messaging platform is now used to send out both serious and less urgent communications. These are given red, amber or green priority status. Authoritative documents sent by this method include the MPS ‘Counter Terrorist Security Bulletin’ and similar documents from the City of London Police, other police services and government agencies. Numerous advice and security articles have been broadcast covering subjects such as cyber crime, fraud, burglary, robbery and theft.
Recent communications have included:
On 23 May 2013, a message from Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe following the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich.
On 28 June the MPS wished to give notice about conditions imposed on an intended procession and assembly in Woolwich on 29 June, due to their concerns that it would lead to serious public disorder.
On the same day Transport for London requested CSSC to send out TFL advice to Londoners and visitors to the Capital to plan their journeys for Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 June, when a large number of events and concerts took place, including concerts at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, the O2 and Wembley, as well as the Wimbledon Tennis Championships and the Pride Festival in central London.
CSSC Business Bulletin
The CSSC has now developed a monthly Business Bulletin which features advice and guidance documents written by experts in their field. The fourth edition has just been circulated to all ISLs which addressed the subjects of ‘Know your Banknotes’ and ‘Travelling Safely in an Uncertain World’.
The CSSC Project also has its own website for general information at www.thecssc.com