Delivery insights

Strengthening operational readiness through simulation exercises

Client Situation

Our client had just completed the detailed operational design for its Coordination Center to be operational during the most recognized multi-sport event worldwide. The Coordination Center covered the city's transport and traffic operations embracing public transport providers, traffic network managers and event specific organizations. Given the uniqueness of the multi-sport event, the recommended and proven method to test operational readiness, is through the design and delivery of simulated operations for a pre-determined period of time. Our client asked us to design, organize and deliver a series of operational readiness exercises.

The way to problem solving

Our approach is discussed below focusing on the first event in the series of test events, which we treat as a case study.

The first step was to establish the objectives for the operational exercise, which were set as follows:

  • Test the communication links with control centers of the participating stakeholders
  • Test the proposed facility layout
  • Test, validate and fine tune organization, processes, contingency plans, reports, forms and tools of the detailed operating plan
  • Test operations under contingency mode
  • Enhance team collaboration, competences and skills, while working under stressed conditions
  • Familiarize all participants with the expectations of the event environment and strengthen their experience and knowledge of the peculiarities of the event transport.

The first exercise in the series was designed as a simulation of the Coordination Center operations through a) real time monitoring of the city’s transport and traffic operations, and b) overlaying the sports schedule of an Event Day to foster event awareness and help focus on critical segments of the transport systems and traffic networks.

The required planning for exercise delivery included:

  • Detailed design of the exercise script comprising the sequence of activities to be performed during the exercise
  • Scripts for the communications between staff of the Coordination Center and respective control centers
  • Realistic event-related data regarding the transport systems (e.g. spectator demand) and data incorporated into reports and tools of the Center as per the detailed operating plans
  • Dummy entries for the IT applications of the Coordination Center to create an event-like environment
  • Detailed accountabilities and responsibilities for participating staff
  • Training material for all exercise participants.

Furthermore, we developed "mock" incidents to be injected during the real time monitoring of operations in order to test contingency response responsibilities of the Coordination Center. These incidents included transport services disruptions, overcrowding in stations, traffic congestion in critical parts of the road network around key facilities, and vehicle collisions involving athletes and media representatives

Actual delivery of the exercise took place during a busy day and time for the city. Fourteen representatives of stakeholders played their roles in the Coordination Center, communicating with their counterparts in control centers. To simulate communications with event specific control centers under development, a support room was set up to implement these communications. Transport providers and traffic network managers had the opportunity to monitor operations using their own IT and communications systems available at the Coordination Center. As per plans, during the exercise, seven “mock” incidents were injected in order for the participants to exercise incident coordination under demanding event-like conditions.

Outcome

In order to obtain maximum benefit from the series of operational readiness exercises, a well-structured process was implemented for the collection of participants’ feedback. More specifically, data have been collected using the completion of evaluation forms and the delivery of a post exercise debrief sessions.

Based on the feedback collected, the delivery of all exercises has been successful, well organised and efficient. Participants were pleased for having the opportunity to take a glimpse of the Coordination Center operations in an event-like context. There was an overall satisfaction with the level of collaboration among staff members, especially while developing the response to the injected incidents. Technology provisions also met participants’ expectations.

Thorough analysis of feedback collected, led to the identification of strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement for the Coordination Centre which were captured in post exercise reports. All actions identified were implemented, leading to a benchmark design for C3 event transport centres.


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