Helping emergency responders counter fake news

Terrorism is a real and serious threat that governments and companies alike must prepare for.

And as well as the operational angles, emergency responders are having to get to grips with new challenges posed by social media. These include how to effectively:

  • reassure and give advice to the public
  • provide situational awareness
  • counter misinformation
  • gather intelligence

Exercise Strong Tower was the largest counter-terrorism exercise ever conducted. Running over two days, it simulated a series of high-impact terrorist attacks across London. Working with the Home Office, the Metropolitan Police Service and a host of other emergency agencies, we helped teams rehearse and test their operational and communications response to the attacks.

Using our Social Simulator platform, we created mock media stories, tweets, Facebook-style queries and live action video content. Our role-players started rumours, fed in eyewitness reports and put in phone calls as a range of journalists and other characters. Mobile participants published eyewitness-style footage from inside and around the exercise venues.

It’s a format and platform we’ve deployed across hundreds of other exercises worldwide. We’ve worked everywhere from Vancouver to Canberra, for clients as diverse as the Department for Energy and Climate Change, Change.org and GlaxoSmithKline. We’ve put teams to the test in sectors from extractives to retail.

For every exercise, we debrief the teams afterwards. We review their approach in terms of strategy, process, tone and messaging.

We then give actionable, useful recommendations on how to improve their preparedness for a real event.

Photo: Evening Standard

Project Outcomes

Exercise Strong Tower involved over 1,000 emergency responders from the Metropolitan Police, London Ambulance Service, London Fire Brigade, British Transport Police and others. The independent exercise evaluation report commented: “Social Simulator performed well as a tool to test the social media skills of first responder corporate communications teams during a major incident on the scale of Exercise Strong Tower. As a tool within the wider simulation it played its part very well, and certainly added to the realism of the whole exercise.”

We’ve gone on to support further counter-terrorism Tier 1/national exercises in Wales, Scotland, Kent and Thames Valley.

How could we help you?

Talk to us informally about how we approach this kind of work, ballpark budgets and timescales - or just to help you refine your brief: email hello@helpfuldigital.com