As you may have heard, British politician Nigel Farage has a bit of trouble with milkshakes. He’s not alone in that. A number of far-right politicians have been targeted with dairy products over the past several weeks—part of an ongoing protest campaign which appears to take refuge in the audacity of the act.
This situation speaks to the importance of maintaining proper security at political events, such as the upcoming G7 Summit taking place in France this August. It will bring together delegates and leaders from the world’s major economies to discuss a range of global issues, primarily centered around inequality. Due to the VIP status of its attendees, it is one of the most highly-guarded events in the world. That’s because each and every leader attending the summit has enemies. And some of those enemies would, if given the chance, do much more than lob a dairy product.
Mind you, security for this event involves more than safeguarding against protestors and terrorists. The G7 Summit is an extreme logistical challenge. The country overseeing it must be able to guarantee the safety of tens of thousands of people while also moving those people in an efficient, coordinated fashion, adapting to potential interruptions and threats the moment they become apparent.
France is no doubt taking extensive measures to guarantee this level of coordination, just as Canada did when it hosted last year’s summit. BlackBerry is proud to have played an important role in securing that event.
“One of our most important tasks is to know and define who will be where and when,” says Michel Bouvier, chief operations officer of the Summit Integrated Command Center (SICC). “We need to know the movements of VIPs down to the minute, including leaders, ministers and spouses. It’s a big logistical challenge, as their movements constantly overlap with each other and multiple events are usually happening simultaneously – it’s therefore critical that we’re coordinated in our approach.”
BlackBerry® AtHoc®, a networked crisis communication platform, provided Bouvier and his team with that level of coordination. They ran a trial of the platform in April 2018, during one of the early summit meetings. That trial just so happened to coincide with the Toronto Van Attacks, in which a terrorist ran down 26 people, killing 10 and injuring 16 more.
Just a few streets over, security ministers from the G7 countries were meeting in advance of the upcoming summit.
“Through coordination with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Toronto Police Services, we learned about the incident before it even hit the news,” he continues. “We then used BlackBerry AtHoc to coordinate changes to the schedule and travel routes for a delegation of approximately 1,000 people. We were able to achieve this in minutes, something which would not have been possible were we still reliant on our old infrastructure – after that, our decision to keep using BlackBerry AtHoc was more or less unanimous.”
Through a combination of prepopulated templates, geotagging and automated logging, the Summit Integrated Command Center improved visibility and coordination, while also reducing the workload of its command center operators. More importantly, it was able to ensure everyone at the 2018 G7 Summit was exactly where they needed to be at any given time. BlackBerry AtHoc was, as Bouvier put it, a “game changer.”
“When you’re running an event as complex as the G7 Summit, nothing ever goes exactly as planned,” says Bouvier. “Anything can happen. BlackBerry AtHoc helped ensure that no matter what issues we encountered, we were ready to address them quickly and efficiently.”
Whether being pelted with milkshakes or dealing with global economic concerns, political leaders face a great deal of stress in their day-to-day lives. At an event like the G7 Summit, they already have enough on their mind – they don’t want to have to worry about whether or not things are running as intended. With that in mind, it’s imperative that the agencies, organizations and stakeholders involved are able to coordinate and collaborate as efficiently as possible. Because without that level of communication, everything else falls apart.