Jäätyvä teaches the value of determined forecasting

In the event of a severe disturbance in electricity distribution, the authorities, municipalities and electricity companies need to work seamlessly together. An extensive, prolonged disturbance in the power network could quickly paralyse society for a long period.

Katja Ahola from National Emergency Supply Agency, Anne-Mari Repola-Mäkinen from Turku Energia and Reima Päivinen from Fingrid gave their comments about the Jäätyvä exercise.

What operating models are required, and how can operating capacity be maintained while faults are rectified? How can people communicate when no electronic communication tools are available? In 2019, five Jäätyvä exercises put communications to the test in various parts of Finland. The electricity was not actually disconnected, but some important lessons were learned about preparedness and fault tolerance.

Electricity distribution could be disrupted by things such as abnormal weather, terrorism, cyber-attacks, negligence, ignorance or accidents. The sixth Jäätyvä exercise will take place in Greater Helsinki in 2021.

We requested:
1 What was the most important lesson your organisation learned from the Jäätyvä exercise?
2 What will you be working on in 2020 as a result of the Jäätyvä
exercise?

Katja Ahola, Head Of Communications,
National Emergency Supply Agency

1 The series of Jäätyvä exercises became a story about the development of communications. During the most recent exercise, joint communication was practised more intensively than ever before. The numerous communications professionals involved in the exercise have given good feedback.

It was fascinating to observe the creative new communication solutions that arose in the exercise scenario. Furthermore, professionals from several different fields were given a feeling for the importance of communications in the event of disturbances.

2 In the future, the National Emergency Supply Agency should put more pressure on the communicators involved in the exercise from the perspective of media and social media games. Backup communication tools should be tested more effectively during exercises and in real life.
We are also responsible for developing the functionality of the game platform used for the exercise. We are currently in talks with Yle, the Finnish national broadcaster, about how we could incorporate cooperation with the media more deeply in various exercises on disruption scenarios.

Anne-Mari Repola-Mäkinen,
Communications Manager, Turku Energia

1 The most important lesson for Turku Energia was the journey to the exercise itself. We began planning well in advance, and we updated our emergency guidelines, crisis communications plan and responsibilities for leadership in the event of a crisis.

The exercise highlighted the importance of collaboration with various stakeholders and the authorities in the event of such a serious disturbance, and this collaboration cannot be initiated in the midst of a crisis. That is why we planned communication during the exercise with the City of Turku, the authorities and other communicators from the organisations involved in the exercise. Good communications ensure that information can be obtained as quickly as possible, and the same content is provided to everyone.

In the event of a disturbance, the media is an ideal partner for distributing information. However, there must be a clear plan for working with the media, as well as a proactive approach to ensure that our message is delivered. We need to know which personnel in our organisation will issue statements and ensure that they have the latest information at their disposal.

It would have been good if the exercise had put us under even more pressure, as such an enormous disturbance would give rise to constant pressure on people in communications. We also needed to think about resourcing and, naturally, keeping our personnel informed in the event when no electronic communication tools are available.

2 Jäätyvä showed that we had taken the correct measures before the exercise. The most important things for us to work on in 2020 are bringing into use the operating models that were tested during the Jäätyvä exercise and maintaining our employees’ readiness for crises. We will pay particular attention to improving the activities of our situation room in the event of a crisis and making use of role cards.

Reima Päivinen, Senior Vice President,
Power System Operations, Fingrid
1 Fingrid was involved in all five Jäätyvä exercises, and it also participated in designing them as part of the Power and District Heating Pool. Several employees were able to participate, thereby enhancing and broadening their expertise. The exercises have improved our readiness and introduced new routines for using various tools. In particular, the use of the Krivat system and Virve, which are required for communication between organisations, has improved substantially.

2 No major changes are on the horizon. We will review the lessons we learned during the exercises and make the necessary changes in our operations. Managing crises, building situational awareness and communication roles and job descriptions will be updated to ensure that we can use the simplest possible operating models. A disturbance could occur at any moment, so the operating instructions need to be deeply ingrained in our employees’ memories and not just filed away in a folder of instructions.

 

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