This report analyses the need and the reasoning for a management information system (MIS) for the security department during the Olympics London 2012. This report looks at the functions of the security department and how they will benefit from an effective information management system. Furthermore, the report discusses how management information systems are used for decision making and the importance of implementing such systems within any organization.
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One of the most fundamental functions in any organization is the decision making process. When one considers the economy we face today, many organizations come to appreciate the importance of being able to challenge competitors, gain advantages and make intelligent use of their resources. The core element of this is the process of making decisions. Information can be central in achieving management goals successfully. To facilitate decision making it is imperative that managers have the correct information at the correct time to overcome the gap between needs and prospects. Furthermore to aid improvements in communication of information adequate management information systems (mis) are indispensable. Thus it is vital to have an appreciation of the management information systems used in an organization and have effective integration, by all levels of management. It is only then that there will be effective, profitable and constructive decision making.
Terms of reference
On the instruction of the senior manager, the security department was asked to evaluate and analyse the requirements for the duration of the London Olympics 2012. Details of the importance of information required and detailing what information will be required plays an important role in the reporting back to the senior manager.
Regardless of the nature of an organization, every organization is filled with information. The information content of organizations is what makes the business function. The role of information in an organization is crucial. Information is important in order to allow for an organization to plan, control, measure performance, record movements and assist with decision making. Management information systems are the conversion and collaboration of this information, from both internal and external data sources into a format which is easily communicated and understood by managers at all levels. Ensuring that information is well structured and effectively stored allows ease of access and timely and effective decision making. Larry long and nancy long (2005, p. 370) describe an information system as: “a system is any group of components (functions, people, activities, events, and so on) that interface with and complement one another to achieve one or more predefined goals” (donald, 2005). Information system may also be considered to be a generic reference to a technology-based system that does two things: providing information processing capabilities and providing information people need to make better, more informed decisions (donald, 2005).
Management information systems are the result of a combination of internal and external sources; they provide a means by which data/ information can be easily manipulated, stored, amended etc. Furthermore, management information systems coalesce all the essentials which assist in the decision making process.
Security is by no means limited to any one aspect of an organization, particularly when on consider an event as large and as globally involving the London Olympics – 2012. For any organization, security cover the physical security of those involved, security of buildings and offices and security if information technology, both physical equipment and cyber security. Assistant commissioner chris allison released a brief on the security issues and concerns surrounding London 2012; his brief included all the ordinary security concerns, such as terrorism and petty crime, but also the danger of online ticket scams, potential protesters hijacking olympic websites and also the more sinister criminals (hervey, 2010).
The overall vision for the London 2012 olympic games and paralympic games, agreed by the olympic board is, ‘to host an inspirational, safe and inclusive olympic games and paralympic games and leave a sustainable legacy for London and the uk’ (London2012, 2010). In order to achieve this there any many threats and many angles from which threats can occur which need to be taken in to consideration. Furthermore, in order to manage and ensure security the information systems implemented must allow for effective decision making prior to the event and most importantly in the event of an untoward happening.
Findings and analysis
The security department cannot be limited to one specific function. The security department, especially for London Olympics 2012, will involve the handling of many aspects of potential threats to the people and systems involved for the Olympics. There are two primary areas which the security department will be responsible for. Firstly, cyber security and secondly the security of the public.
As technology, its uses and abuses expand at hasty rates, so does the level of threat faced by organizations and their information systems. Information technology forms an important feature of the information systems in place today. Information systems define what needs to done or managed and the information technology aspect is how this is done. Therefore, technological advancements and the increase in their abuse is a major threat where London Olympics 2012 is concerned.
A case study by students of the pennsylvania state university looked into some of the major threats which organization face in the form of it threats. These included; wireless network security, cryptography, access control, privacy control, risk management, operating system security, including server threats, vulnerabilities and firewalls. These are just a handful of examples (bogolea & wijekuma, n.d.). Amongst these examples and besides these examples are many others which are an easy cause for concern for London Olympics 2012.
For any organization it is imperative to exercise control over their computer based information systems. London 2012 needs to ensure that the computer based systems, those which rely on it are protected from threats, as the cost of errors and irregularities that may arise in these systems can be high and may even challenge the very survival of the event. An organizations ability to survive can be severely undermined through corruption or destruction of its database; decision making errors caused by poor-quality information systems; losses incurred through computer abuses; loss of computer assets and their control on how the computers are used within the organization (mandol & verma, 2004).
Cyber security expert professor peter sommer of the London school of economics warned that computer security would be extremely important during the games (hervey, 2010). A case study which looks at the tragic death of two boys 18, and 10 years of age discusses how cyber security was the issue in relation to the gasoline leak of olympic pipelines pipeline (abrams & weiss, n.d.). This is an example of the devastation to human life which cyber threats can cause, and when one considers this on the scale of London 2012, it becomes clear the number of people depending on optimum security.
In order to combat this threat, information needs to be obtained from both internal and external sources. External information may include information from professionals in the cyber security industry to information from intelligence agencies. Terrorism is as much of a cyber-threat as is the computer virus or any other infection. Information systems will only be able to cope with and combat these threats by ensuring they all well informed through risk assessments of potential dangers. Furthermore, in order to overcome any unexpected threats contingency planning forms an essential element of information systems development.
Risk assessment is an important step in a risk management procedure. Risk assessment is the determination of the quantitative or qualitative value of a risk related to an actual situation and a recognized threat. Maroochy water services, australia, are an organization a world apart from London olympic 2012, however for the purpose of their cyber security improvement program; risk assessment establishment played a key role (abrams & weiss, 2008). This example shows that important of risk assessments if by no means limited by industry, size of organization, or any other feature for that matter. Risk assessments provide a means for any organization to help avoid potential threats through prior consideration.
In addition to information required for a risk assessment, is the information required for a contingency plan. A contingency plan is a plan of action for if things were to go wrong. It is a backup plan. In order to overcome any type of disaster information must be collated into a contingency plan. This would again form an essential part of the information systems, as it would be crucial in the event of a disaster.
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London Olympics 2012 will see several thousands of people from all over the globe in London. Amongst visitors will be players, key visitors and reporters. Those visiting, and then those who already reside in the uk, accumulate to an increase in population, and thus there is a risk of increase in crime. The crime can range from petty crime, to terrorism. The common factor amongst all, is that people need to be protected.
Security has been a crucial concern at the Olympics since the killing of 11 israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 munich games. Olympic planners have ramped up security following the september 11, 2001, attacks in the united states (wilson, 2010). Inefficient management of the people involved in the Olympics and the public, can have devastating effects. This is a major concern during and time and for a city where terrorism is a real and potential threat.
In order to be able to implement information systems which can cope with, and appreciate the requirements with regards to security, information needs to collated from many sources. First of all, predictions are one of the very first decision making elements which need to be fulfilled by an information system in this situation. Information regarding the number of athletes expected to be present during the Olympics, statistics from previous olympic games will be required regarding the number of spectators/visitors the country had, and finally the number of security staff and resources available at present. By means of prediction and analysis through a computer being able to protect and serve the public can be achieved. The information system may be used to obtain information concerning the number of staff which will be required to patrol the streets. The number of security staff which will need to be put in to place to sufficiently protect the athletes and their trainers. Also, the locations which are expected to be busiest can be recognized, and thus will require more staff and concentration of cctv cameras.
In addition to predictions, is the actual information which will need to be included in an information system, this is information about the number of police officers, or security guards in other areas, or cities besides London that can assist in providing security in this situation. This information may well form a part of the contingency planning.
Where cctv cameras are concerned, or access controls, id badges etc there is the need for information systems to collate and manage all this information. Systems will be need to record information of who accessed which area or building at which time for access/ id cards, cctv will need to keep a recording of all activities captured, and there will be the need for databases to log people working for the period of the Olympics and athletes. This information will help to deter crime, provide an element of security and protect people.
Information systems come in not set type or standard. They are the collation of several information sets to provide a well-integrated system used to make decisions. The London Olympics 2012 are like no other organization, and are on a scale grander and vast the most other organizations deal with. It is this grandness and this large scale involvement of people, which in turn increases the risks and potential threats. London Olympics 2012 is an enormous event and is expected to employ several thousands of people. And furthermore have several thousand spectators, reporters etc. An effective and accurate management information system is essential in order to ensure that the city hosting the event is able to effectively plan, control, record people and protect systems. Hudson bank managed to overcome the problems it faced with adaptation of its information system, some of this was done using off the shelf software and the majority through establishment of customer requirements and communication essentials (anon., 2008).
The security department is involved with many people and many types of threats; the most important two being, securing people and securing systems. Cyber threats can not only damage systems, but even cease functioning of the event. In order to avoid this it is important that the potential risks are assessed, all that can be done to avoid them striking is done and contingency plans are set for action.
Another important aspect is protecting people. In order to do more staff would be required, police, community support, security guards etc. This is a large amount of shifting people around, staff from other cities, new recruits etc. Therefore it is vital that this information is managed efficiently. The information systems should be able to cope with large numbers of peoples and provide effective and accurate predictions and decision making results. As with all information systems, the number of information sources will need to extensive in order to provide optimum results.
Taking in to consideration the need and scope of the management information systems for the Olympics in London 2012, particularly the security departments’ involvement and requirements the following recommendations are made:
The security department need to ensure that all staff involved with the use of the information systems for them is full trained. Any glitch can have dire effects on the rest of the system and ignorance of any warnings of threats can also be horrific in consequence. Training is not only limited to the staff working with the systems, it is also important that staff working with people are trained to handle a large number of people, overcome any problems, identify potential threats, maintain the cooperation of people in the event of a disaster etc.
Risk assessments and contingency plans should be in place for each and every aspect of security. Furthermore, all staff should be made aware of both of these reports, particularly contingency planning. This will only help them do their job better and overcome any disasters. Informing staff will provide a more thoroughly aware work force and maintenance of security in the event of a disaster.
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