Organising a government event that is not only the talk of the town but the talk of the world could be either your worst nightmare or a knee-trembling opportunity that you can’t miss. For GlobalSign.in and the GEVME team, in particular, the partnership offer that came from the DPRK–USA Summit organisers signified the chance to hit a new milestone, and it served as an important testament to what the company has achieved in the past.
In this blog post, we will describe GlobalSign.in’s journey as an official tech partner of the historic meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. The event, which took place in Singapore, set very high standards in terms of security, data protection, and tech compliance. How did the GEVME team manage to put all systems in place in just two weeks? Why was cooperation with stakeholders the hardest challenge? And how does role-playing fit in? You can find the answers to these and other questions below.
Crafting a government event of global importance step by step
Obviously, planning the North Korea–U.S. Summit required much more than the usual government event planning experience. With the whole world watching, these two political leaders met for the first time in Singapore to discuss denuclearisation, an issue that has been troubling the world for decades. The organisation had to be seamless.
According to Anna Jones, Singapore was chosen as a summit location because “it’s safe, neutral, secure, and has a good relationship with both America and North Korea.” Certainly, complying with the image of being a “secure place” was fundamental for the organisers and stakeholders involved. As an event tech provider, the GEVME team was responsible for online registration and onsite management of check-ins. This involved lots of pre-event testing, system monitoring, and late-night training. Let’s break this down for you:
1. Analysing venue capabilities and infrastructure
Because onsite event management implies working with hardware and equipment on the ground, it’s important to be able to adjust to the physical capabilities of the venue. It’s a common practice for the GEVME team to explore the space before planning onsite layouts.
In the case of the DPRK–USA Summit, both the onsite specialists and event organisers made numerous visits to the site.
“Since we were unfamiliar with the venue, we had to go there at least two to three times before we could actually come up with the floor plan that was subsequently presented to the client,” recollects Daniel Gerard Tjan, Customer Success Director at GlobalSign.in.
Through these visits, the team was able to gain an accurate understanding of the flow and could, therefore, come up with the best scenario as to where to place any hardware, what type of hardware was necessary, how to manage the queues, etc. In other words, the final version of the onsite plan was based on the capabilities of GEVME within the particular setting of the venue.
2. Demonstrating compliance with security standards
As we’ve mentioned before, online and onsite registration were two systems that the GEVME team was fully responsible for. Because these involved a great deal of interaction with the personal data of attendees and stakeholders, cybersecurity was an important piece of the puzzle. There were several tactics used to ensure foolproof data protection:
- Protection against cyber threats: This involved putting into place the related firewalls and making sure the servers were properly protected against malware, DDoS attacks, or any other web vulnerabilities.
- Name badge encryption: To prevent name badge duplication, the team employed an encryption mechanism. Each name badge was assigned a unique, encrypted QR code. In addition, the codes couldn’t be copied thanks to unique holograms contained in each one.
- Thin-client approach: The onsite team ensured that even if a laptop was stolen, no one could actually access the data. This is because there was no data actually stored directly on computers but rather on the government cloud that could be accessed only by a limited number of people that were directly invited to the GEVME project. This strategy, also known as a thin-client approach, eliminated the threat of equipment and data theft.
- PDPA compliance: Similar to GDPR in Europe, there’s also a data protection law enforced by the government of Singapore known as PDPA. As a Singaporean company, GlobalSign.in had to abide by PDPA, which means GEVME was compliant with the core data security requirements right from the start.
3. Testing, testing, and retesting
The software used to power registrations at the DPRK–USA Summit was a ready-to-use solution with little or no updates to be made. However, a working mechanism is only the first part of successful event registration. To make the execution of onsite processes efficient, the team had to make GEVME compatible with all third-party tools as well as ensure the whole system was convenient and easy to use. To accomplish this, the team put into place four levels of software and hardware testing:
- Security testing: Spotting security vulnerabilities through the involvement of one independent party
- Penetration testing: Organisation of simulated attacks by an independent party
- User acceptance testing: Cooperation with end users in terms of application testing
- Performance testing: Evaluating the capabilities of a website, an application, etc.
4. Establishing an efficient communication flow
Communication was a big issue for the GEVME team, both internally and externally. “Throughout the event, we had to communicate with a huge number of end users, not to mention the security personnel, venue hosts, operational specialists, and other staff. Dealing with an incredible number of stakeholders became one of the main challenges for the team,” claims Veemal Gundagin, CEO of GlobalSign.in. Since it was impossible to track all the communication flows manually, the team used reports to generate insights and view the results of interactions.
Handling onsite communications was even more challenging. Because a large percentage of the staff were volunteers and the timeline was difficult, the team of onsite specialists had to train the newcomers as quickly as possible. To achieve this, role-playing practices were used, as the onsite team modelled several practical cases that volunteers would have to deal with during the event. Concerning internal communication channels, the GEVME team used instant messaging, which was very convenient because it allowed for the creation of different groups of users. When the venue is very large, it is critical to use the tools that let you stay connected to the team at all stages.
A strategy on government event organisation can involve hundreds of layers and practices, so there’s no way we could describe all the possibilities. However, what we can do is provide you with a framework that embraces the most vital aspects. If your strategy involves venue analysis, data protection compliance, testing, and communications management, you are already halfway to success.