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CLAW2019: Crisis, Creativity and a Whole Lot of Fun

A month ago, 75 participants from all over Europe met at PSNC in Poznan, Poland to immerse themselves in talks, training sessions and exercises about crisis management. For those who could not join us, here’s my overview of all the fun and learning we had over two days. And as a picture speaks more than a thousand words, I’ll keep the text short and let the visuals (all made by PSNC) do the talking.

Day 1: Talks and Training

The first day started with a keynote from Anna Wilson (HEAnet), who told us about the network outage caused by the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11. Her story was gripping and made us all reflect on the implications of huge crises. It showed that people will do extraordinary things when faced by serious crises. It also told us that the stress and anxiety that come with crisis management have long lasting implications.

After this reflection on a real life crisis, we listened to talks about the specific exercises organised by RENAM (Ecaterina Matenco) and Belnet (Giovanni Corsa and Davina Luyten) this year.

Leadership, Communication and Focus

To get into some key crisis management skills, we split into three different groups to learn more about Leadership, Internal Communication and How to Prioritize and Focus during a Crisis. The discussions were valuable and the three sessions closed with small exercises to prepare all participants for the major crisis exercise on day 2.

The final part of the afternoon started with a great talk by Michał Łakomski (Smart City Commissioner, Poznań City Council) on how the city of Poznan manages (cyber) crises and how they work closely together with PSNC. Urpo Kaila (CSC) and Nicole Harris (GÉANT) closed the day with thoughts on cyber threats, exercises and the security baseline for NRENs.

And of course, no event at PSNC could be complete without a tour of their magical labs, and this is what we did before the working dinner.

Day 2: Crisis Exercise

Imagine: you are the crisis management team of GuilREN, the NREN of the beautiful European country Guilder, and right on the admission day info going online for all prospective university students, all the institutions are faced with connectivity issues and are not able to upload data on the government portal. The Ministry of Education is looking at you to fix it before 12.00, or all admission info will be delayed. This is what all the participants of CLAW, split in different teams, had to deal with.

 

After learning more about Guilder’s history, language and even its national anthem (specifically created by Damian Niemir from PSNC), all teams met in their war rooms and experienced one day of crisis, divided into six rounds when they had to prioritise actions, talk to journalists and stakeholders and communicate well internally.

In the meanwhile, in the other side of the building, a group of people were playing the angry University Presidents, the Education Minister and some pesky journalists always trying to get to the bottom of the crisis.  Each war room featured a countdown clock for each round and live news reports on the crisis.

After two very busy hours, all teams emerged from their rooms almost unscathed. We closed the plenary wrap-up with a big thank you to PSNC for hosting the event and creating all the multimedia material, and of course listened to some farewell words in Guilderish by Damian Niemir.

More info

All the material of CLAW2019 can be found on the GÉANT wiki

We will organise another CLAW Crisis Management Event in 2020. Dates and location will be announced in Spring 2020 via CONNECT online and the SIG-ISM, SIG-NOC, TF-CSIRT and SIG-Marcomms mailing lists. So stay tuned!

If you want to organise your own crisis management exercise or have any other questions, do not hesitate to get in touch with me Charlie van Genuchten