As we look back on 2015 and reflect on recent media headlines, we can appreciate the level of uncertainty that is affecting our society, along with the unpredictability of the threats we are facing, from weather hazards to terrorist attacks.
Terrorist organizations are determined to exploit our weaknesses, either physically or virtually, to create chaos and terror, which are usually accompanied by a significant impact on our national economies. This is their raison d’être, and in order to remain relevant and to attract more followers, they will continue their attacks.
This in turn has resulted in an asymmetrical conflict: simple and minimal resources on the part of the terrorists are inflicting major damages, whereas the means to prevent and protect against those attacks are both complex and costly. So the question is, how far do we want to go and how much do we want to spend to reduce the risk of such attacks?
During the recent turmoil of events in Europe, the United States and Africa, some of our leaders were courageous enough to explain that even with the best of security plans, there is no such thing as 100 per cent security or 100 per cent protection. Even with the increased level of security since 2001, terrorists are still able to penetrate our layers of physical and IT security.
I, for one, believe that it’s in our capacity to show our determination to respond to terrorist attacks, by effectively and efficiently utilising the resources at our disposal. As part of this response, we have to become more resilient, to limit and restrain the impact of those hazards, and to resume our activities, as quickly as possible.
The strength of our response to weather hazards, terrorist attacks and other unforeseen events lie in our ability to collaborate across boundaries, agencies and companies. We must find innovative ways to share and communicate information, to optimize our response and the allocation of limited resources.
So to become more resilient, we must become more collaborative. This can be accomplished partly by providing stakeholders with a common communication and information sharing platform. Ideally this platform must also facilitate the monitoring of our actions by the leaders of the various organizations involved in the emergency, contingency or business continuity plan. So it’s all about accurate and secure information being communicated and shared in real time, between everyone involved at different levels in our governance model.
As these unforeseen events increase in numbers and frequency, our performance will be assessed by the effectiveness and the efficiency of our response, how rapidly we engage our plans, how we dispatch resources and how we resume operations, once the threat has been eliminated. To become more resilient, we must also learn from these events, what we did well, where we could do better, what we would do in the future and how we will train and test ourselves, to ascertain and validate our new capacity.
Thankfully, a number of companies have recently developed innovative tools that enable professional security and safety specialists to manage a crisis.
Having plans and strategies in place along with the means to communicate with response teams is certainly a very important part of increasing an organization’s resilience. These plans can become even more effective, when allowed to cross organizational barriers, to integrate everyone’s contribution to the resolution of a crisis, with accurate real time information and monitoring capacity.
Yves Duguay, EMBA, CSSP, is the President of HCiWorld (www.hciworld.ca) and strategic advisor to Cobalt (www.e-cobalt.com).
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