Monday, July 25, 2011

Watermark: The simulation builds its own momentum

We're rounding out our week over coverage of Exercise Watermark, the UK flood simulation. The occasion was the follow-up conference with participants. Already there's materials on the web about it, including slides from many of the key presentations. Kristy Chandler from Capita Symonds checked in and had this to say about the conference:

“About 250 people from various government departments attended to provide feedback on the exercise and the recently published interim report. The feedback received to date is positive - with people appreciating the opportunity to actively feed in to the evaluation process. And the feedback received will be very valuable in finalising the post-exercise report. Richard Benyon MP gave a very good presentation, as did Rod Stafford on behalf of the consultants. My company (Capita Symonds / VectorCommand) also sponsored a post-conference dinner which was a lot of fun, and included an awards ceremony. Awards were given to a number of individuals who performed well during the planning of the exercise or as players – all very well-deserved!”

We’ll finish off this week with one last question about Kristy's favorite moment during the Exercise Watermark.
In a flood command center (source)
Tom Pagano: What was the most exciting, or interesting, or insightful moment for you?

Kristy Chandler: We had certain people that were participating on different days. On the second day, the Cabinet Office Briefing Room (where all the ministers sit and talk to the prime minister) was so concerned about the news that there might be a coastal flood event happening, they started requesting all this information from other people. Those were experts that weren’t actually meant to be participating on that day, but the experts came in and started responding without their briefing, just purely in reaction to the requests from this cabinet office because they’re important.

The whole exercise became alive, even without us “stimulating” it by sending them “injects” [points when new pieces of information were revealed]. We thought, “Wow, this is amazing”. All you need to do is just stimulate a group – and this was a very large group of people – for it to become alive and gain its own momentum. I was impressed by that.

But it’s scary because you only need, with a big group of people, a couple of little things and the interaction between them all can turn it into something much bigger. It happens in life all the time. People end up doing something based on a couple little bits of information to start with and get spooked. But in this case it was positive and made the exercise exciting, very “real life”, and part of why everyone has said it’s such a success.

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