25 November 2010

Whole Community: OPS Risk Spectrum...

Operational Risk Management is a discipline that comprises a spectrum of "All Threats and All Hazards." A "Whole Community" approach to the nexus of national security, economic security and the entirety of our citizens. The resilience factor in your private sector organization or the entire nation will consistently be tied to the weak links in your:

  • Prevention
  • Protection
  • Response
  • Mitigation
  • Recovery

One of these five aspects will be your nemesis when the next incident or catastrophic event touches your company, city, state or country. These are an increasingly interdependent ecosystem that determines your resilience factor. What business units, neighborhoods, counties or states are your weak links?

With every global event, whether it be earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, oil spills or terrorist attack the local community has a 72 hour window that will dictate it's destiny. Three days that will set the tone and the direction for the remaining weeks, months and years of recovery. Time and time again we are reminded how important an effective security posture must be before the "Whole Community" can begin to operate. So what is the most effective system that focuses on people and not necessarily just a single process? What is the right order or steps soon after the event unfolds? The answer lies with the subject matter experts who time and time again have been at the zero hour or day of the incident itself:

  1. Security
  2. Medical
  3. Water
  4. Shelter
  5. Food
  6. Counseling

Human behavior is an unpredictable factor. It can impact everything in terms of the speed and quality of post incident response. Without security, the first responders that perform medical triage will be reluctant and in harms way to treat those who may have a greater likelihood to survive. This cascades into several discussions that we know are hot for debate. What if the first responders are your fellow tenants on the floor above you, or the office building next door? Not the professionals from the local fire or police department.

"Citizen First Responders" (CFR) are your organizations front line Operational Risk Managers. They are the ones who will have the "Ground Truth" and will be required to make the hard and fast decisions on what needs to be secured, who needs to be saved and where to establish incident command. How many CFR's are ready in your organization today? Your business park? Your neighborhood? Who is in charge of security? This list goes on...

It all begins from the ground up with people who want to be more active as a "Citizen First Responder" that are given the programs, tools and training. Here are just three facets of the different types of CFR's that exist:


The list of Non-Government organizations (NGO), Faith-based (FBO) or other organizations that exist today is exhaustive. Like most everything, you have a pyramid where only a few rise to the top to become the most effective; because they truly understand the discipline of Operational Risk Management. Yet security is still the concern of any civilian based personnel even today:

"U.S. Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo said the United States is deeply concerned by what she called the seemingly ceaseless unlawful targeting of civilians, including women, children, humanitarian workers and journalists.

"The United States calls for more concrete actions to hold accountable those who attack humanitarian and peacekeeping personnel," she said. "We must also pursue accountability in places where insurgents and terrorists hide among civilian populations, turning communities into battlefields. These groups continue to inflict unspeakable crimes on innocents."

Remember all of those places across the globe whose resilience factor is low; because of a weak security posture and the environment for the "Citizen First Responders" to operate remains an unacceptable risk. It doesn't matter if it is New Orleans, LA USA post "Katrina" hurricane or the streets of Port-au-Prince or Santiago, post earthquake. Or even the few city blocks of Mumbai during a terrorist attack. Preparing for one type of incident without consideration for the other, may put your citizens and responders in harms way:

"The new head of Germany's top police union said Tuesday that officers lacked the training to deal with a terror attack, as the country maintained a state of alert after a warning from a foreign ally. Speaking at a Police Trade Union (GdP) congress in Berlin, Bernhard Witthaut said that Germany's security forces were equipped to cope with natural disasters but not an incident like a suicide bombing."

Where is the weak link in your Operational Risk spectrum?

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