Upgraded Technology, Detailed Planning, Teamwork Led to Successful Hosting of Nuclear Security Summit 2014 in the Netherlands

May 17, 2014

Hosting not only 58 world leaders, but also 5,000 other delegates and 3,000 journalists took about 2,000 employees, 8,000 military staff and 13,000 police when the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) 2014 was held March 24-25 in the World Forum at The Hague, Netherlands.

Besides all of the support personnel, the event  - organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – took a plethora of other entities to plan and run successfully, such as The Hague Convention Bureau, Tourist Information Office, Schiphol Airport, Ministry of Defense and the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism, just to name a few.

The Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions played a role in coordinating activities between their partners.

President Obama made several positive comments during the event: “Your hospitality has been remarkable.”; “Your organization has been flawless.”; and “My first visit to the Netherlands was truly ‘gezellig’ (cozy, the core of ‘being Dutch’).”

In 2009, President Obama delivered a speech in Prague in which he called nuclear terrorism one of the greatest threats to international security.

With that in mind, President Obama hosted the first Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Washington D.C. in 2010, in order to draw attention at the highest possible level to the need to secure nuclear material and prevent nuclear terrorism.

At the 2012 event in Seoul, The Netherlands was asked to host the 2014 event.

As one can imagine, with all those world leaders onsite in the World Forum at The Hague, there definitely were challenges to planning the event, especially coordinating all of the tight security with the suppliers involved.

“The biggest challenge for all suppliers involved was probably the strict security,” according to the event’s organizers. “This required ​​a tighter than normal preparation and thorough planning to ensure people and resources were at the right place at the right time.”

In addition, calculating with the additional bomb-checks, blocked routes and redundant technical systems, suppliers “demonstrated great creativity when preparing for a successful execution of the event.”

This prevented catering trucks from ending up in a president’s motorcade and would reduce equipment down-time during the important meetings to a minimum, the organizers added. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs lined up an expert team comprised of both internal specialists and external suppliers.

“We had the time to involve them early in the process. This presented us the opportunity to build on their expertise to come up with innovative and creative solutions. It allowed us to incorporate a lot of Dutch products and services, creating a true Holland-showcase,” said  Michiel Middendorf, general manager of host venue World Forum.

He added, “Regardless of two years of preparation, we only had two days and one take to perform. The teamwork and professionalism everyone demonstrated leading up towards the event, gave us confidence that everything would come together to create a success.”

For all suppliers involved, the NSS required a high level of quality and dedication, organizers said.

“The NSS is like playing the Champions League final,” Middendorf said. “It’s the highest level, but once you master playing at that level, it means that you can handle and organise any conference. From the first request for proposal until the last guest has safely gone home.”

Besides the security details, the venue also had to be upgraded with several technical aspects:

·         The ICT network was upgraded, more glass-fiber than already existed.

·         An additionalelectric loop was constructed in case anything would go wrong.

·         The closed camera circuit was modernized.

·         Themobile coverage (4G) was upgraded in the building and the parking garage.

Looking back at lessons learned from holding such a prestigious event, the organizers said: “We should have prepared us better on the period immediately after the NSS. In this period there were immediately some big conferences in the World Forum, so for some colleagues there was no time to have some days off.”

They also said they learned it was important to utilize something like the NSS as a marketing tool. As a result, they launched a NSS clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-ZEdfQOahQ and a new campaign “Hosting the World” (see here).

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The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority’s Public Safety Team at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC) and the Hynes Convention Center (Hynes) have taken their experiences to develop a comprehensive crisis management and emergency preparedness training program.