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What’s the Role of Crisis Management in Securing Key Assets?

Posted by The Brain on Mar 2, 2021 5:01:46 PM

In the aftermath of the US Capitol attacks, critics dissected the security response – a failure to predict leading to a sluggish, reactive response. And that’s often how we review incidents of civil unrest, through the prism of security operations. But we might be missing something crucial by this limited focus – namely the role of crisis management in securing key assets. 

MKT-523 - Crisis Newsletter Graphic - 3 March 2021-01

The role of crisis management in securing key assets is often under-defined

Well, it’s surprisingly hard to pin down. By definition, a civil disturbance (civil unrest activity including demonstrations, riots, or strikes) in or in the vicinity of key assets constitutes a crisis by any measure. That’s simply because such a disturbance disrupts the community, requiring intervention to maintain public safety.  

However, you’d be hard pressed to figure out the precise role of crisis management in securing critical assets if you just looked at some of the frameworks created to secure so-called soft targets. While helpful, the popular Connect-Plan-Train-Report framework (Source: Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency), for instance, doesn’t make explicit reference to crisis management, though it’s designed for a business audience:


  • Develop relationships with local law enforcement and businesses in your area. Invite local law enforcement to tour your business.
  • Connect with community security and preparedness organisations
  • Communicate with your customers and let them know about the security measures you are taking to ensure a positive experience and to maintain public safety.


  • Be aware of current threats related to your geographic region or impacting your business sector.
  • Develop plans, including security, emergency response, emergency communications, and business continuity plans, while considering the protection of your employees and customers, access control, closed-circuit television, signage, suspicious activity reporting, and parking security.
  • Evaluate your security requirements and design a monitoring, surveillance, and inspection program that is consistent with your business operations.
  • Develop evacuation and shelter-in-place plans, and ensure that multiple evacuation routes are clearly marked with appropriate signage and that rallying points are available.
  • Develop and implement a security plan for computer and information systems hardware and software.
  • Engage local first responders (police, fire, medical) in all of the above efforts to ensure your efforts are in synergy with theirs.


  • Train employees on identifying and reporting suspicious activities, active shooter scenarios, and what to do if they suspect an improvised explosive device (IED). Ensure they understand security basics, emergency response, business continuity plans, and increased awareness of potential threats.
  • Exercise your emergency communications plan.


  • Post details on reporting suspicious activity and encourage employees, tenants, and visitors to report suspicious behaviour to property management security or local law enforcement.


Defining the role of crisis management in securing key assets

Of course, there’s no need to throw the baby out with the bath water. Multi-step frameworks like Connect-Plan-Train-Report can help clarify the role of crisis management in securing key assets. But crisis management teams will have to go the extra mile, laying out their own roles and responsibilities throughout the lifecycle of a civil disturbance incident.  

For instance, during the signal detection phase, crisis management might take the lead in threat identification, maintaining active awareness on social media of protests and protest organisations in the area.

Moving on to the probing and prevention phase, crisis management can work with the security teams to develop and implement a civil unrest playbook, laying out the umbrella response for all processes related to the incident. The civil unrest playbook might even have overlap with the organisation’s labour dispute and active shooter playbooks, particularly the evacuation and shelter-in-place sections.

Since that umbrella response will include crisis communications, crisis management will be well positioned to assume the lead in managing reputational risk during the damage containment stage, specifically where there are employees who are sympathetic or critical to those involved in the civil disturbance.

Finally, when pivoting to recovery and learning, crisis management and business continuity can use subject-matter expertise to provide expeditious accountings of the damage inflicted on facilities, including financial and operational costs.

Finally, high-profile civil disturbances are usually analysed through the prism of the ineffective security response, underplaying if not outright ignoring the role of crisis management in securing key assets. But crisis management techniques, processes, and even technologies can help throughout the lifecycle of a civil disturbance.

To learn more about what specific crisis management software capabilities matter when responding to critical events, download our Purchaser’s Guide to Crisis Management Software:

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Topics: Crisis Management, Critical Issues Management, Crisis Plans, Crisis Planning, Crisis Newsletter

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