This is the story of how an incident with a national impact made way for new thinking in public crisis management. It’s a system with two main structures: From a national perspective, a network of governmental bodies are grouped in several crisis management clusters.
From a municipality perspective, each local authority builds their network, connecting emergency services, hospitals, schools and other vital public infrastructure, to be able to handle an unexpected incident locally.
The beauty of this Norwegian model is that when something happens that can affect multiple regions or even the entire country, the local system immediately connects with regional and national networks, using the same software and infrastructure to handle the issue.
One Voice is the company that has contracted with the Norwegian Government to provide this system, a software product called CIM. Situated in the city of Trondheim in mid-Norway, they now serve a base of some 700+ clients both in the public and private sectors. One Voice was established in 2006 and has since opened offices in London, Stavanger and Svalbard.
When the tsunami hit the shores of Asia on Boxing day 2004, 4000 Norwegians were on holiday in the affected area. Tragically, 81 of them died.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs conducted a thorough investigation of its crisis management setup post-crisis and identified several areas that had not functioned properly when they needed it most.
The ability to track and communicate with those affected was earmarked as a weakness, and they decided to establish a whole new methodology for handling crises on a national scale, along with a software system to support this. One Voice was one of the bidders, and its software CIM was chosen as the preferred solution.
With the Norwegian Directorate for Security and Preparedness taking the lead, CIM was implemented in central government departments, the directorates and the crisis unit at the PM's office. When the local municipalities were granted permission to buy the same software, resilience networks were built locally and connected to regional and national level bodies, forming the backbone of crisis management in Norway.
In the local networks, first line operators, emergency services, and vital institutions share plans, risk assessments and alerting procedures. Every operator with access to the system has role specific action cards. Updated alerting processes increase the speed and efficiency of the early stages of managing the crisis, with all involved personnel required to acknowledge alerts they receive.
All external alerting, such as the local press and community institutions, is handled through CIM. Monitoring social media and press coverage from the system, the crisis management function has the perfect tool to stay up to date and on top of public communications.
The critical features of CIM enable all involved parties to be on the same level through every phase of the crisis.
The Next of Kin (NOK) module provides a set of tools for managing the information relating to those affected by an incident and those calling the organisation to inquire about colleagues, friends and relatives. The module is made up of four key components:
These modules work together to form a complete solution for managing incoming and outgoing communication relating to persons affected by the incident. Callers can be linked to persons affected, and a full audit trail of communication is held within each person’s record- this ensures that should a person submit two enquiries, they will not be duplicated.
Most CIM installations in Norway are implemented in municipalities, which use the system for preparedness and crisis management locally. So, when The Tall Ship Races come to the city of Kristiansund, the local authorities use CIM to prepare, plan and train. All public parties and volunteers get involved, and structures, procedures and communication lines are laid out and tested.
The system also acts as a project management tool for the crisis organisation handling the event. All meetings are logged and all exercises evaluated in the tool, making it accessible for all parties involved.
During the event, CIM handles all sorts of incidents happening when tens of thousands of people gather in a small area for several days.
In this context, CIM is used as a local system handling preparedness and crisis management at the level of origin.
The beauty of the Norwegian layout and CIM Connected is that if ever a local incident attracts regional interest, the infrastructure is already there. The relevant bodies and the relevant people are granted role-specific access to the local system. The shared statuses, logs and updates give every operator insight into the whole picture.
The regional bodies can then turn around and alert to the national level if required, still sharing the same information, alerting roles - not persons - using two-way communication to communicate receipt of delivery and receive important information from those ‘on the ground’.
CIM Connected can be tailor-made to suit specific processes in the public sector. These are often build on regulatory specifications and doesn't necessarily comply with off-the-shelf modules in CIM
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health is responsible for alerting and reporting on certain kinds of diseases.
They have built a separate network in CIM combining the different levels of stakeholders. At municipality level, the chief municipal medical officer has access to this network. That is also the case with the chief medical officer on the county level and the regional hospitals. On the top level of the hierarchy, we find The Norwegian Institute of Public Health controlling the system and monitoring every case reported.
Predefined forms ensure fast and accurate reporting, and all affected levels share this information and comply with the reporting routines.
Should a disease related to water or animals be reported, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority is also alerted and can add vital contributions to that specific response.
When the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs conducted its investigation after the Tsunami in 2004, it found that its ability to track, inform and protect Norwegians abroad was not satisfactory.
One of the actions they took was to establish a system for people to register their travel information when going abroad. By doing this, the Ministry has a clearer picture of how many Norwegian citizens may be involved in an incident and have contact information for everyone who has registered before leaving Norway.
The other side of this system is that every registered traveller has access to the system, making it easy to verify their status and their current position if something should happen.
The user interface of this service is web-based, of course, but the infrastructure behind it is CIM Connected, integrating with the rest of the Norwegian national preparedness and crisis management system.