Crafting a plan and making sure your team is prepared
are essential to confronting risks both known and unknown

In today’s uncertain world, event organizers and host cities find themselves operating in complex multi-stakeholder environments. Among the challenges they may face are homegrown violent ex-tremism, cyber-criminal attacks on data and IT networks, and event can-cellations due to severe weather.

Within this uncertain environment, how can event organizers and host cities enhance their resilience to manage the known (familiar and consistent events) and prepare for the unknown (external

and uncontrollable events)? There are three proven concepts to help: risk-based event planning and decision-making; “secure by design” principles for enhancing safe and secure guest experiences in crowded places; and the performance of operational readiness exercises.
Surprisingly, less than 33 percent of North American event organizers have documented their risks through what is known as a risk register, a list of potential unwanted outcomes resulting from an incident, event or occurrence. Even fewer have identified and assigned a person to be responsible for assuring that appropriate risk-control measures have been implemented.
This is not to say that event organizers are not actively managing known risks. Rather, most have not implement-ed a structured approach to risk management to ensure that foreseeable event risks are identified, assessed, evaluated and documented.

The 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the recent mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California forever changed our mindset about which events could be the targets of violent, deliberate attacks. So how can we enhance the safety and security of our events? During the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in Lon-don, we adopted the “secure by design” methodology. The plan integrated design, people and process (soft measures) with technology and security barriers (hard measures). This approach is equally applicable to all events, regardless of their size, scale and scope. Through understanding the level of risk and potential security threats to the event, event organizers and their security partners are able to adopt a more pragmatic approach to identifying and applying appropriate levels of security measures based on the event risk profile.
While plans, policies and procedures provide the foundation for successful event delivery, it’s training and operational-readiness exercises (tabletop exercises, walkthroughs, simulations and drills) that put the team in operation mode. That can be accomplished through a series of readiness exercises to prepare them to manage the known and enhance their ability to respond to the unknown.

While we may not be able to predict when and where a risk may materialize, event organizers still have the opportunity to proactively identify risks, assess the potential impacts and develop a plan to help the organization and team members be ready to respond when the moment calls.