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The City of Chicago served as the host for a summit which was to be among the most important diplomatic forums of the year. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit was held from May 20 to May 21. In joining the ranks of other world-class cities that have hosted this event—Paris, Rome, and Brussels, to name a few—Chicago marked several milestones:
In all, several thousand dignitaries, along with an international press corps of thousands, gathered in Chicago. Attendees included Heads of State and Government, cabinet ministers, other high-ranking government officials, and NATO’s Secretary General.
Along with the several thousand dignitaries came logistical problems because the meeting took place in the downtown central business district where many Able customers operate high rise buildings. While many businesses encouraged employees to work from home, the majority of office buildings operated as business as usual and had normal traffic in and out.
Able delivered a seamless plan that all of our clients were aware of so they that could rest easy when it came to operation and maintenance of their assets during this historic summit. We determined that a three-prong approach was the best course of action. We identified these key critical components:
1) Transportation (planning for the temporary road closures for dignitaries and general gridlock that would occur)
2) Communications (with protesters estimated at 50,000+ we needed to be able to communicate with Fire, Life Safety as well as building management in case of a major catastrophic issue
3) Planning for the needs of our client’s tenants and our employees, serving as an extension of the building
Our Transportation plan included backup employees stationed in the CBD in the event employees could not get to a property based on gridlock. We had extra vehicles stationed throughout the city in case certain areas became ‘locked down’. We also staged numerous bicycles throughout the CBD for emergency situations. All of these strategic and proactive solutions delivered peace of mind and tremendous value to the buildings where we operate.
Our Communication Plan began with notifying all clients of how Able was preparing for the summit and the measures we were taking to plan accordingly. Test activations were set up to verify that the AES call center was able to forward issues to the appropriate team members. Locally there was a manned 24/7 backup operations center strictly for communicating needs/ messages. The City of Chicago cell phone carriers had concerns about the cell phone network being overwhelmed, so Able set up emergency ‘city wide’ radios to ensure communications were forwarded to the appropriate team members. This strategy proofed perfectly.
BOMA Chicago and the City of Chicago communicated via text and emails giving constant updates on status of demonstrations. Meetings between the police department and Able were critical to knowing what the real issues were as opposed to media concerns or hype.
Companies discuss safety and all suggested they could demonstrate that company-wide. However, in today’s competitive world many companies suggest they are safe. At Able not only are we safe but we place at the highest level the safety and needs of our employees, clients and their tenants within their properties. We had back up food and water available for locations where it was communicated to us through public safety that potentially someone might not have been able to leave. We felt it critical to partner with a disaster recovery firm who had 12 board up teams stationed in the CBD (along with four semi-trailers of plywood). At Able we feel we can never be to prepared because as our motto suggest WE ARE SERVICE AT WORK.
In the end, the City of Chicago and Able Engineering were well prepared. There were many protesters and police lines throughout the city congesting streets and traffic. Thankfully little, if any, damage was done. The Able Engineering Services Emergency Preparedness Plan and actions came through with flying colors.
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