Experiences from implementing a security and business continuity system in Norwegian Airports

Few industries operate under stricter safety and preparedness regimes than the aviation industry. At Avinor, we work towards an unambiguous safety goal: No aviation accidents or serious incidents where Avinor is involved. As the senior safety advisor, it is my responsibility to implement a business continuity system that both supports our strict security regime and is intuitive to use for anyone affiliated with our 45 airports.

Complexity Can Never be a Hindrance to Security

Avinor is a significant public actor and possesses a lot of information that has to be accessible for emergency services, the Ministry of Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority. It means that Avinor, in addition to the extensive network of airports, all of which consist of several different departments, must be connected to the public security and emergency network.

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It’s essential that our business continuity system handles this intricate web of connections without compromising security features like information, dissemination and data protection. Here are my tips for implementing a business continuity system in a major organisation:

Face to Face

I have implemented our business continuity system in 45 airports, mostly by working face to face with the operators, but also over Skype. My experience is that on-site implementation is three to four times more efficient. Additionally, personal presence helps you build a closer relationship with the people who will use the system, and it will be easier for them to ask for help further down the line.

Read more: 10 things the aviation industry can teach us about preparedness and safety

Make Sure the System is Role-specific and Divided into Levels

Our system is set up in a role-specific way. It means that a person's responsibility determines the lay-out he or she sees when opening CIM. An external party, such as a municipality, only has an input user, which means they can add information to the system, but not extract anything. For example, a person working for Widerøe ground services can send data into the system but can’t see anything from that incident or other events.

The system is also divided into levels, but that doesn’t mean that top management has access to everything. The strategic level shouldn’t see all the information; it will appear cluttered and prevent them from fulfilling their strategic responsibilities.

Read more: Why Crisis Management Must be Hierarchical

Use Icons and Other Visual Aids

A management system is only useful as long as the employees make use of it, and employees only utilise systems that are intuitive. Some of our partners barely access the system on a monthly basis, so I've tried to make it as intuitive as possible. I designed icons so that the users can navigate the system quickly, and my goal has been to manage every task within three clicks. In addition, we offer monthly training sessions to anybody who need a refresher on how to use a system.

Build an Automatic Dashboard

I’ve implemented this management system alone and am responsible for both building the system and training all users. For anyone undertaking this alone I recommend you keep a project management tool or automated spreadsheet that can be easily updated and shared with for example senior management. I made a form in Excel that gave me an overview of time usage, costs, slack and work packages at all times.

Set up Clear Notification Routines

A management system for business continuity serves no purpose if the information doesn’t reach the right people when it matters. Therefore, it’s essential to set up clear notification routines so that everyone knows who to notify and where their responsibility begins and ends.

In the aviation industry, the tower often receives the notification first. They have the best overall view of the airport, and can in turn call the operations centre who notifies relevant personnel. This can be the tactical crisis management team and local crew. If the situation is severe, the response can be escalated to the operational unit situated in Bjørvika. This is how we ensure that notification and mobilisation is efficiently and correctly executed every time.

The size of your organization should not be a hindrance for effective preparedness, as long as you use a system that is intuitive so that the employees actually utilise it. 

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By Johan Lindström

Johan is a senior advisor at Avinor, the government-owned operator of almost all of Norway's airports. He manages the business continuity programme and is responsible for security and preparedness across Avinor's portfolio. He holds a degree in project management, a management degree from BI and has attended Räddningsskolan Rosersberg.

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