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What we can learn from the terrorist Project Griffin

Local knowledge is key: What we can learn from Project Griffin’s plan to give one million UK workers terror response training.

Project Griffin hit the news last week with the headline that one million people who work in crowded places in the UK are to be trained over the next 12 months in how to deal with a possible terrorist attack. When listening to the news item, I realised that the objectives and approach being advocated closely mirrored network management best practice - in particular the hierarchical approach and use of ‘local knowledge.’

The plan, to be announced by the National Police Chiefs Council, will see people being briefed across the UK to:

  • Raise awareness and be alert for terror threats
  • Inform that what to do in the event of suspicious activity
  • Who to go to or talk to regarding anything suspicious
  • Pass on police terror training and advice to colleagues.

When interviewed Detective Chief Superintendent Scott Wilson, the national counter-terrorism co-ordinator, made the point that ‘local knowledge’ is a pre-requisite to identifying that something is out-of-place or unusual and could be vital in keeping staff and the public safe.

In the same way, those managing network bandwidth need to know the peaks of the working day, patterns of the week and seasonal variations. This information alone is not enough though.

‘Local knowledge’ is needed if an organisation is to anticipate new growth ahead of a busy period, or accept that the network will run at a higher than usual level during this time. It’s this ‘local knowledge’ of the organisation’s business patterns, trends, and planned activity that informs what action needs to be taken.

Just as Project Griffin is looking to use companies to cascade information to individuals through ‘train-the-trainer’ type activity, so network management looks at the key routes and pinch-points in order to maximise efficiency.

When unusual activity is reported or identified, it’s often difficult to drill down and find the individual, machine or application which is misbehaving, either intentionally or not.

‘Local knowledge’ can confirm that certain sites should not be using such high levels of bandwidth, but you need to deploy specialist tools to correctly identify the misbehaving application or user, and manage the situation appropriately.

Increasingly many of us are downloading large video files to view legitimate business seminars or training, which brings us back to applying ‘local knowledge’ to inform our logic and conclusions.

Expert systems take us a long way in managing and optimising networks but can only go so far in providing complete understanding. To be effective requires informed decisions made by experts who know the organisation and how it operates. By applying this informed ‘local knowledge,’ either in-house or in partnership with a Service Provider, the network remains optimised and effective for the benefit of all the business’ stakeholders.