When an incident occurs in the United Kingdom, authorities mobilise emergency response services across the nation. These agencies must be ready to deploy personnel wherever they are required at a moment’s notice. As a public safety agency, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) plays a critical role in that regard.
Responsible for securing the country’s civil nuclear facilities, the CNC must balance its mission with its emergency response activities – a task which requires a high level of coordination.
“First and foremost, our organisational responsibility is to protect nuclear material from security threats, both in-transit and in-situation,” explains Joseph Shearer-Rust, Resilience Officer at CNC. “We’re also required by regulators to always keep a certain number of active officers at each site.”
The CNC had previously been dependent on outmoded communications systems to manage the deployment of personnel and resources, response protocols, and coordination with other agencies. Communications management was an area in which Shearer-Rust and his colleagues realized CNC must improve.
“Our original process in times of mobilisation involved phone trees,” says Shearer-Rust. “Several officers at each site had individuals they were required to contact in the event of a staff shortfall, and some staff in remote areas such as the Scottish Highlands were equipped with only pagers. It worked, but it was hardly an efficient way of doing things because it was incredibly time-consuming.”
After a highly-intensive product assessment, the CNC deployed BlackBerry® AtHoc® Alert, a two-way emergency communications system capable of managing messages across multiple channels including text, email, radio, mobile phone, and desktops. Using preconfigured templates and the user-group features within AtHoc, the agency was able to reduce its average response time for major incidents from several hours to approximately fifteen minutes - and further reduced response time for smaller scale urgent mobilisations.
“We can deploy with much shorter notice, meaning our officers are able to complete their mission much faster, and we don’t need to worry about setting aside additional resources until it’s absolutely necessary,” Shearer-Rust explained. “The AtHoc platform has effectively paid for itself at this point.”
The CNC recognised that it could also improve the way they assign personnel for overtime positions by using the system to streamline the overtime vacancy/solicitation process. This has proved particularly valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused a sharp upturn in both remote work and staff absences.
“With everyone working remotely, BlackBerry AtHoc has proved to be an invaluable tool both in overtime management and connectivity,” said Shearer-Rust. “We’ve been using it internally to rapidly communicate essential updates to our workforce, while our Assistant Chief Constable has used to it ensure police officers and staff are immediately updated when there are important changes to national policy and guidance. People quickly saw the value of the platform – following the first message, our signup rate went from 80% to nearly 100% over the span of a few days.”
Whether responding to a major national security incident or protecting highly sensitive materials and sites, BlackBerry AtHoc ensures the CNC maintains peak communications and operational efficiency.
Read the full case study here.