Ensuring Resilient Infrastructure for the NATO Summit
On 4 and 5 September 2014, an unprecedented 67 heads of state from across the NATO alliance, including Barack Obama (USA), Angela Merkel (Germany) and François Hollande (France) arrived in Wales for the NATO 2014 Summit.
With 150 other dignitaries, 10,000 staff and 2,000 media descending on southern Wales, a massive security operation accompanied the Summit. This involved 1,500 police officers from Gwent and South Wales, a further 8,000 officers from other UK forces, as well as over 600 police motor bikes – the largest police deployment in Welsh history.
The NATO 2014 Summit involved four separate police force areas (Gwent Police, South Wales Police, Avon and Somerset Police, Gloucestershire Police) and 32 different base sites within the immediate event area. The sheer scale of the event – the largest security operation in Wales’ history – meant the requirements for critical communications support were unprecedented.
One base site in South Wales had an unprecedented 2,057 radios affiliated to it – the first time a site outside London had more than 2,000 radios affiliated to it.
Before and during the Summit: In order to prepare for the unprecedented demands of the NATO summit, Airwave needed to increase the day-to-day capacity of its Network. To achieve this Airwave increased the capacity at 29 of its base stations and installed additional ports to connect Gwent and South Wales police control rooms, acting as open lines of communication. In addition, Airwave installed in-building solutions at the Celtic Manor Resort and carried out thorough health checks on all event sites prior to the Summit. An incident team was in place throughout the Summit to deal with any situation should it arise. Airwave deployed field engineers on the ground to cover the whole area and they were supported by a dedicated team in the network management centre (NMC) and Airwave staff at the Silver Control in Cardiff.
Airwave set up two end user engagement sites to provide training and support to the officers from the 43 police forces providing mutual aid.
On 4 September some 580,000 calls were made by users in the immediate event area which is the equivalent to 30% of the traffic carried on Airwave’s ESN on a normal day in London
An unexpected challenge came when US President Barack Obama decided to visit Stonehenge in Wiltshire on his return home from the Summit. Only a handful of agencies were briefed about the visit on the final day of the summit, with Airwave the only non-governmental agency included in the brief and asked for input. Airwave pulled together a small team, gave advice to government agencies on Network traffic and officer numbers to cover the President’s trip. Due to the sensitive nature of the visit, Airwave moved a number of engineers to be in the locality without briefing them about the reason.
The NATO 2014 Summit took place over five days from Monday 1 September to Friday 5 September 2014 with demonstrations planned the weekend before. On 4 September some 580,000 calls were made by users in the immediate event area which is the equivalent to 30% of the traffic carried on Airwave’s ESN on a normal day in London – a feat that was only possible due to the upgrades delivered ahead of the event. To put this into context, there was an eight-fold increase in the number of users affiliated to Airwave’s ESN on any typical Thursday night. One base site in South Wales had an unprecedented 2,057 radios affiliated to it – the first time a site outside London had more than 2,000 radios affiliated to it.