On the eve of the 2015 Rugby World Cup – and, with it, perhaps the UK’s last major sporting event requiring temporary security solutions for some years to come – Chris Plimley shares some valuable lessons learned on providing security overlays for global sports stars and, indeed, world leaders.
Maybe, just maybe, rugby can kick football into touch for six weeks on the back pages of the papers as the oval ball takes centre stage (though I must admit to being more of a League man than a Union lover having lived all my life near Wigan).
The IRB Rugby World Cup kicks off on Friday 18 September at 8.00 pm with hosts England opening their campaign against Fiji at what head coach Stuart Lancaster hopes will become ‘Fortress Twickenham’ between then and the final (which takes place on the last day of October).
The Southern Hemisphere dominates the modern game just now but, alongside England, there will be no shortage of other Six Nations teams from the Northern Hemisphere vying to progress to that final, among them Scotland (with almost the entire starting XV from reigning Guinness Pro12 champions Glasgow Warriors chosen in the country’s strong 31-man squad).
For its part, Zaun has been involved in the latest two phases of work at the Olympic Stadium which will host five matches, beginning with the Pool D clash between France and Romania next Wednesday followed by three further pool games. The venue is also set to stage the third place play-off on Friday 30 October.
The London 2012 Olympic legacy team handed over ‘The Stadium’ – as it will be known during the World Cup – to the tournament organiser last Monday. After the World Cup ends there’s further conversion work to be done before the Olympic Stadium opens permanently in 2016 as the new home of Barclays Premier League club West Ham United FC and a national competition centre for UK athletics.
While the world’s top rugby stars don’t perhaps have the global pulling power of, say, Usain Bolt and legions of today’s professional footballers, and we’ll also not expect the same entourages of world leaders attending the Rugby World Cup, the tournament still requires a major temporary security operation (the like of which we probably will not see again in the UK for many years to come once it’s over).
Zaun spent over four years delivering the company’s largest-ever contract for the London 2012 Olympics. It was a fantastic time for the business and duly opened up so many doors and opportunities. Now, we’re focused on using the credibility and success of that London 2012 operation – in tandem with our security work at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales so expertly hosted by the UK last autumn – to secure long-term legacy customers.
Collaboration, communication, consistency
Our other legacy will always be with us: knowing intimately how to plan for, design and deliver temporary major event security overlays fit for Her Majesty The Queen or the US President Barack Obama. After all, if you somehow manage to mess up on security for them at a major global event you’re never going to live it down.
To my way of thinking, it all boils down to three ‘Cs’: collaboration, communication and consistency.
Early collaboration ensures logistics and planning can be co-ordinated to maximum effect and efficiency. It allows for the identification of the right personnel in the right numbers and affords the appropriate length of time for them to be properly vetted, accredited and trained.
With forward planning, suppliers can then manufacture in good time and installers will be in a position to devise detailed build schedules designed to ensure the safest working practices can be maintained even under the most exacting of timelines. Remember that work often has to be carried out in the tightest window in the small hours of morning darkness when public transport systems are not running and local roads may be briefly closed or diversions put in place.
That’s where the importance of good communication from the earliest opportunity comes in.
Throughout London 2012, LOCOG and the Olympic Delivery Authority built and maintained excellent communication streams with all stakeholders – from athletes to volunteers, spectators to taxpayers and contractors to media types.
While they’re taking place and in the build-up to them, major events are always going to disrupt life for some which will inevitably cause certain people to complain. Whether it’s the aforementioned road closures and/or diversions, potentially affecting trade and workers’ commute times, or the cost of staging an event (just look at the riots in Brazil before last year’s Football World Cup in protest at the ‘misuse’ of public funds, as the protesters saw it), some will feel they’ve been negatively affected or that their rights have been infringed in some way.
That being so, security contractors need to work closely with event organisers, local and central Government, the police, local councils, residents and the media to ensure potential ‘clash points’ are pinpointed well in advance, mitigation plans are well understood and, importantly, that the overall greater good is – wherever and whenever possible – an aspiration shared by all.
Stick to your plans
The final ‘C’ – ie consistency – is an area where, perhaps, the London Olympics organisers could have done better. London 2012 staged 26 Olympic sports and 20 Paralympic sports across 29 venues in 27 days – the equivalent of 541 concurrent days of sporting competition –multiplying the importance of consistency a hundredfold.
Any inconsistency or late changes within planning – such as that which occurred around the number of security officers deemed necessary to safeguard the 2012 Games – often causes more work, waste, extra cost and delay and can introduce unnecessary friction between a tight-knit team that’s under collective pressure to deliver on an immovable deadline while doing so in the full beam of both media and political headlights.
Stick to your plans. If you have to change them then do it early, with comprehensive collaboration and complete communication to the fore.
Anyway, let’s hope England do us proud on the pitch.
Chris Plimley is Sales Manager for High Security Products at Zaun