Public-Private Partnership in Current Threat Environment LONDON FIRST PLAYS A HELPFUL ROLE

On December 2, I attended a London First briefing sponsored by RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) on “Lessons Learned from the Terrorist Attacks in Paris”.  While we observed Chatham House rules, and thus I cannot relay details, what I did come away with was confirmation that public-private sector partnerships in communications and observations are required -now more than ever – given the heightened terrorist threats and the source of those threats.

What I learned from the experience shared from the Paris attacks was that the mechanisms for public-private sector partnership are not at the same stage in Paris as London.  Granted London has experienced terrorist attacks for years.  London also has recently held some significant events, not the least of which were the Olympics and royal weddings and anniversaries.  What we did for the Olympics, through London First creating the Cross Sector Security Communications hub – to connect the private sector through-out the UK to one voice from the Met or Transport for London police, to speak with one voice with one truth to the private sector in the event – is a model that Paris could follow.  Successful bridge calls and messages are going out regularly during the heightened alerts, and whilethe basis for those calls was established in calmer times, they are effective.  It is not merely a government initiative, but well represented and supported by the private sector.

The importance of having the private sector as a partner in counter-terrorism efforts cannot be understated.   When an event happens, it does NOT happen to a government.  It effects people, businesses, and the marketplace whether a concert hall or a restaurant or a bus.  Without strong leadership and partnership between the government/police/military and the private sector –businesses, communities or religious groups and more – we are failing to protect and mitigate, let alone respond.

The benefit of London First hosting these briefings isthe opportunity to hear directly from government and police leaders related to counter-terrorism. The more the private sector knowsthrough sharing between the public and private sector, the better our process will be to ensure that we can work as a team to maintain our lifestyle in the face of those whose goal is to destroy us.

For information on joining London First Security and Resiliency please see:


The Downing of the Lusitania and 9/11

In 2006, I orchestrated the lessons learned in Emergency Preparedness for the 9-11 Commission at the 11th Public Hearing at Drew University, NJ.  If I had only read Erik Larson’s 2015 book prior to the hearing, “Dead Wake, The Last Crossing of the Lusitania”, I would have seen the outline for the theme of the hearing:  Emergency Preparedness.

1198 people died on the Lusitania including 3 German stowaways.    2996 people died as a result of the attacks on 9-11, including 19 hijackers.

At 2:33 PM, the “Lusitania sunk”.  18 minutes. “A great ship, present one moment, gone the next, leaving what appeared at a distance to be an empty blue sea” as Erik Larsen reported.

The WTC buildings collapsed.  103 minutes with no previous history of buildings “sinking”.

Conclusion:  emergency preparedness lessons have not been learned.


Remember the President’s Daily Brief, where it was mentioned that planes could be used as weapons? These were warnings that did not become actionable.  In the Lusitania case, Larson said that the UK Admiralty did receive warnings on the fact that Germany had ordered attacks on all vessels in the North Atlantic “whether troop transports or any other British vessel it encountered”, and that they had sunk neutral ships.  Those warnings were not fully or carefully relayed to the Lusitania. As Larsen states, “Now five days into its voyage, the Lusitania made its way towards Britain alone, with no escort offered or planned, and no instruction to take the newly opened and safer North Channel route.” “At some point…the (British) Admiralty learned of the German Embassy’s advertisement published in New York…that seemed to warn passengers against traveling on the Lusitania.  The ship’s date of departure and its expected arrival in Liverpool a week later were now in the foreground of public awareness”.  While warnings rang out across the world and were known in detail by the UK Admiralty, they did not get communicated to the Captain.  “Nor was any effort made to escort the Lusitania or divert it from its course”, according to Larsen.

In the case of 9-11, the warnings were not nearly as clear and there was no intent to ignore warnings, nor not communicate them.  However, there is an eeriness in the comparison of the blinking “red” dots prior to both events.

“First” First Responders were Civilians:  Never Forget

As the 9-11 Staff Statement 14 said, “Along with the passengers and crew

aboard the airplanes, the first responders on 9/11 were the first soldiers on the frontlines of a new kind of war. Some of them became its first casualties; some of them became its the first heroes”.  On board the Lusitania, the passengers and crew became the first responders and they also became some of the first mass casualties of the German decision to torpedo civilian passenger ships. In addition, as Erik Larsen depicted, the passengers on board helped each other as best they could survive the ordeal, similar to 9-11.  In one case, the author describes a woman who was drowning as the water rose over the ship and she fell deep underwater.  “Her head struck something” and she “found (herself) clinging to the bumper of life boat 22”.  “A man reached for her.  She was so grateful she asked him to write his name on the inside of her shoe, ‘lest in the experience to follow I might forget’”. Similar mantra of 9-11 – “Never forget”.

Preparedness: 18 minutes/102 minutes

“The private sector on 9-11 was largely unprepared”, as I wrote in the 9-11 Commission Report.  Full evacuation had not been practiced.  Employees did not know where the stairwells were.  In sum, there was acknowledgement that preparedness as a concept was not taken seriously and not practiced.  (In the WTC or anywhere for that matter).  As we saw on 9-11, one minute the World Trade Center towers were standing; in 102 minutes both towers were gone.

In the case of the Lusitania, lifeboat activation had not been fully drilled either by the crew on the ship or the passengers.  Erik Larsen said, “the first attempts to launch the Lusitania’s lifeboats was shattered the illusion of safety projected by having so many boats on board”. Explanations as to how an evacuation would proceed had not been communicated.  Erik Larsen describes how “many passengers decided to forgo the boats and take a more direct path” to survival (probably because they had no experience with the boats).  Some passengers had made plans for an emergency since there had been rumors of a potential threat to the ship, but in the event, those plans could not be executed.Passengers had not practiced putting on life jackets in spite of instructions; many put them on backwards and drowned.  Others could not find their life jackets because they did not realize they were located in their rooms, not on the deck.  Many jumped without their life jackets on. Erik Larsen said “A life jacket did not guarantee survival.  Many who entered the sea had their jackets on incorrectly and found themselves struggling to keep their heads above the water.  The struggle did not last long…”

The scenes from 9-11 remind me of Erik Larsen’s statement “One of the most disconcerting sights reported by survivors was of hundreds of hands waving above the water, beseeching help.”I remember later watching the videos of the jumpers and listening to the tapes of the 911 callers.

Communications:  Chaos

The 9-11 Commission Staff Statement 12 stated, “The second part of private sector preparedness is communications. Once a decision is made to react to an emergency, there must be an effective way to communicate that

decision to tenants and/or employees, to account for tenants and employees in the aftermath of an event, to communicate with concerned family members, and to continue operations. The tenants of the WTC varied widely in their success in meeting these challenges.”   It is astonishing that the same conclusions made in 2001 were seen in Erik Larsen’s account of 1917.

For the sinking of the Lusitania, the first messages came as rumors to the American consulate in Queenstown, Ireland.  This was telegraphed to the US Ambassador in London.  As in many disasters, the first reports were erroneous and the Ambassador was under the impression the passengers were safe.  During a dinner the night of the sinking, the Ambassador received “small slips of yellow paper” with information.  In New York, information came from the German ocean liner Vaterland that was interred during the war, who had received a message “via wireless” that the ship had sunk. In the Cunard’s office, however, a coded telegraph had arrived that said the ship was gone. President Wilson found out the news later the day after the sinking.  Family members learned of the deaths of kin “mostly by telegram”.  As Erik Larsen said “There was the usual confusion that follows disasters.  For days, dozens of cables shot back and forth between offices.”  “A few passengers reported to be dead were alive” and vice versa.  “Time zones and sluggish communication made it even harder on friends and kin”.  “Cables took hours to receive, transcribe and deliver”.  The shipowner had little information to provide, according to Larsen.  The process for collecting the dead, treating the wounded, and finding the missing who were alive also was chaos.

This all mirrored 9-11.  However, we were in the booming age of communications. Blackberrys did not work.  Cell phones did not work.  Cables were down.  The satellites on top of the WTC were gone.  Firemen could not communicate within the buildings.  All we had was voice mails to loved ones… which might have been better than the letters left by passengers of the Lusitania… sort of.

I could write more on this comparison, but in conclusion, I found it bittersweet to find so many similarities between the preparedness elements of the Lusitania and 9-11.  How is it possible, I ask myself, that we are still learning the lessons of the need to prepare and practice for disasters?

Climate Change and OCSiAl Annual Business Meeting

Emily Walker attended the Annual Business Conference hosted by OCSiAl in Novosibirsk, Russia in November 2015.  The conference, first of its kind for OCSiAl, invited global business partners, distributors, and masterbatch producers to hear about the latest developments inOCSiAl and share their experiences with the products.

What were the main findings of this meeting:  OCSiAl is moving at great speeds to commercialize TUBALL – the most innovative, cost efficient and pure Single Wall Carbon Nanotube (SWCNT) on the market today.  OCSiAl is building a 50 ton factory to complement the10 ton facility currently in production mode.  Participants were able to tour the facility and see the actual fabrication of the nanotubes.  In addition, OCSiAl is building a prototyping center to produce masterbatches of SWCNT in a variety of solvents ready for immediate use in multiple manufacturing processes.

Given the recent heightened focus on climate change, the development of clean technology that can fundamentally alter all materials at a price, purity and quantity ready for industrial usage is even more relevant.

Clean materials are a new generation of superior materials which cause a dramatic reduction of emissions over their life cycle when compared to “normal” materials.  Carbon nanomaterials – Single Wall Carbon Nanotubes and graphene – are examples of clean materials that transform common materials into super composites, even when added in quantities as small as 0.0001% of the material’s weight.

As  the  only  universal  nano-additives  commercially  available,  single-walled  carbonnanotubes  (SWCNT)  will  be  at  the  heart  of  clean  materials.

That means ordinary widely used materials such as steel, plastics, and rubber can be replaced with much stronger nano-augmented versions that cost less, require less energy to produce and use, and provide a broad range of novel benefits.

Clean materials reduce CO2  emissions over their entire life cycle, from extraction, transport and processing through use and ultimate disposal, addressing the core cause of consumption and pollution problems.

➔➔  1  kg  of  SWCNT  can  produce  a  10  ton  reduction  in  CO2  emissions  per OCSiAl projections.

This and more was discussed at OCSiAl’s Annual Business Meeting.