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For Will and Kate’s Day

08 June 2011

Photo: David Strydom

It was just another Royal Wedding for Interserve whose work with the Met Police, UCLH, MoD and others demonstrates how facilities management expertise makes these special, high profile national events ‘business as usual’

THE ROYAL WEDDING ON APRIL 29, 2011 is a date that is likely to be remembered for many years to come. With the nation united by the first event of its kind for a generation, Interserve explains just what goes into supporting major events in London, both planned and unplanned.

Whether it is a state event, major carnival, marathon, or even a large scale emergency, the success of dealing with major events is very much dependent on the forward planning and cohesion of numerous organisations and teams on the ground.

Working across London on a daily basis, with high profile clients including the Metropolitan Police, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Ministry of Defence and University College London Hospital (UCLH), Interserve employees are involved in many areas supporting major event planning and support.

For Interserve, the Royal Wedding was a perfect example of how individual teams can work together to play their part in the identification of risk, analysis of required resources and control of their use. Ultimately, the focus was to deliver an enhanced level of service to their clients, whether this was supplying road closure signage and street cones, cleaning reception rooms, or closely monitoring security updates from the police.

In lots of respects, it is not the work you do on the day that is necessarily the most important. For example, Interserve’s joint venture PriDE, is responsible for estate management and construction services at around 100 MOD sites in the South East of England. This includes Wellington Barracks, which was a key feature of the event, hosting some 1,500 important visitors from military attendees to VIPs from overseas.

PriDE spent the run up to the wedding refurbishing flagpoles, planting and tidying flower beds, providing a mechanical sweep of the parade ground and generally ensuring the premises were immaculate.

Interserve also delivers services that go above and beyond ‘traditional’ facilities management support. Its contract with the Metropolitan Police includes front-line operational and support through its special events team, which provides 24/7 incident response, traffic management, sign manufacture and event support (both planned and unplanned).

Used to managing large crowds, the team has experience from the Notting Hill Carnival to the London Marathon, where they are often asked to set up cones, put out signage, organise command and control centres, and more besides.

For the Royal Wedding, their services were once again put into good use. Interserve set up briefing and command centres, and supplied a signs van for an early morning rehearsal on April 27. They set up Observation Towers (camera points) along the route, and supplied all the road closure signage. On the day itself they had two stand-by vehicles on hand, kitted out with appropriate supplies to facilitate additional road closures if required.

These types of services are nothing unusual for a team that supports The Trooping of the Colour, The London Marathon, The State Opening of Parliament, The Lord Mayor's Show and Notting Hill Carnival. They offer support to the Metropolitan Police, including setting up feeding centres, incident event control centres for minor and major disasters, controlled and

unplanned demonstrations and scenes of civil disorder.

They are also heavily involved in incident response. In most cases this includes supporting scenes of crime investigations which may require a wide range of support capability and could include any or all of the following: temporary lighting, generators and power, tents, preservation of evidence, making safe of domestic services, plumbing and whatever tasks or support are appropriate to the incident. The Interserve team is also called upon for Disaster Response - it’s all in the planning.

Although the Royal Wedding really did go without a glitch, this unplanned support is something that Interserve has to plan thoroughly for. Along with supporting the Metropolitan Police, Interserve also supports the University College London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

For this 665-bed hospital, business continuity is crucial, especially when the risk levels in London are raised. Therefore, in advance, Interserve rearranges any deliveries and logistics to ensure that the reduced staff levels are not over tasked and to avoid congestion onsite.

The Royal Wedding had little effect on the daily operations of the hospital, but staff got involved in the spirit of the event. For example at Interserve’s ‘Time Out’ restaurant, Interserve employees erected wedding bunting, had a TV showing the ceremony and even put on a special ‘Cream Tea’ menu on the day, which went down very well with those that were not able to attend the event.

But it is the support that Interserve provides from a security and responsive aspect that really makes the difference. At the heart of any major incident in London, University College London Hospital understands the importance of business continuity and risk management. During April 29 the security team was in regular contact with the Trust Security Adviser and Metropolitan Police to gauge the alert state accordingly. If the alert status changed, this information would allow the team to post additional security and start the ‘escalation procedure’ depending on the levels of support needed.

All staff regularly undergo business continuity training and major incident awareness courses to make sure they are fully prepared if an incident does occur. The Major Incident Alert Training (MAJAX) in place at University College London Hospital ensures that all Interserve staff can erect a ‘decontamination tent’ in less than twenty minutes. The three tents are where all contaminated self presenting individuals will be taken before entering the hospital in the case of a chemical, biological or radiological incident Planned approach

It is this type of ongoing training that prepares the ground for such major events and although there was no exponential rise in patient intake around the time of the Royal Wedding, other events in the past show a real need for ongoing business continuity and risk management training. This training helps to prepare staff by fostering a philosophy, language and work ethic between client and supplier teams that really makes a difference if a situation occurs. By talking the same language and using the same education tools, training days and regular updates, individuals can understand their role and step into the roles of others as needed.

As members of the Business Continuity Institute, working within the BS 25999 framework, following best practice guidelines and having developed ‘think-ahead’ – a mechanism that enables Interserve to effectively identify, evaluate, allocate and actively manage risk whilst controlling associated costs throughout - they continually ensure both their own and their clients’ teams are fully prepared.

This involves every aspect of the situation; including the people, systems, premises and suppliers who enable key support to provide a resilient and rehearsed process. These contingency plans enable a consistent service, in even the most extreme circumstances, to be delivered.

National Service Centre co-ordinates

Supporting Interserve’s contracts is their National Service Centre. This service centre usually provides 24/7/365 help and support to both their national and international customers, answering 36,000 calls a month.

The centre benefits clients through improved operational flexibility and business continuity, central control of call volumes, shift patterns and training to ensure resources are constantly available to respond to their clients and their team’s requirements.

If a major incident or event situation occurs, they co-ordinate activities across contracts, and bring together activity across clients and multiple locations. It is this ability to call upon highly trained communicators who understand the different client needs that makes the management of risk and delivery of business continuity more effective. For instance during the recent London riots, the National Service Centre was able to coordinate a fast response team to help refurbish one retail environment, which had sustained significant damage to its windows and interiors.

On this particular occasion, Interserve had engineers strategically placed in the city centre and on hand to undertake any reactive and refurbishment works required by the client. Through forward risk management planning the team was also able to utilise police information to formulate action plans within minutes of the incident taking place.

This enabled the team to begin the clean up operation immediately after the forensics had examined the site. The building was restored and re-opened within just three days.

Managing incidents from severe weather conditions to July 7 London bombings has tested Interserve’s systems and proven their capability in pro-actively preparing and managing incidents for clients. In such a diverse range of environments it is essential that preventative measures are in place, with key stakeholders at both a functional and building level being identified.

As part of ‘think ahead’ Interserve’s business continuity approach, they continually test against regular incident management scenario planning and audits, utilising ‘particle illusion’, a high level simulation technology, and dedicated business systems management teams to deliver services every day, whatever the circumstance.

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