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“Hazards do not respect or follow municipal boundaries”

Let’s Talk Resilience is the new section of our blog where we receive guests to talk (…of course) about resilience. Today it’s Ignasi Fontanals (Director Europe Rezilio Technologie) who talks with Hoilid Lamssalak (Director of RisCrises) and Corentin Rodrigues (Head of the Research Department) about their backgrounds, their visions of resilience and the situation of the sector in France.   


(This is an automatic translation, A liberty of adaptation has been taken to make the text coherent but no words have been changed.)


IGNASI: Thank you for joining us today in Let’s Talk Resilience. As you know, Let’s Talk Resilience is a section of the Rezilio Technologie blog where we talk to people around the world. Rezilio Technologie is a company based in Quebec, but also present in different provinces of Canada, in Europe and especially in Spain and France. We are very happy to have you with us today as you are a privileged partner.  


HOILID – Hello Ignasi and congratulations for this initiative, which we rarely see in this field. It’s a great approach to talk about resilience and we are really happy to be able to participate in this exchange. I am Hoilid Lamssalak, manager and founder of RisCrises, a consulting firm and training organization, which will soon celebrate its 7th anniversary. 


IGNASI – I’ll let you introduce yourself Corentin  


CORENTIN – I join Hoilid on this great idea to propose a podcast about resilience. I’m Corentin Rodrigues, in charge of the engineering department at RisCrises. In fact, I am in charge of supervising the teams and the missions on the whole metropolitan territory and overseas, with all the public or private customers.  


IGNASI – Thank you Hoilid and Corentin, we really wanted to discuss with you, because we were very surprised to meet such a young and dynamic team on the French market. Explain us a little bit, how you created RisCrises? 


HOILID – RisCrises was for me the opportunity to put under a single structure, different approaches of the risk that I liked. Initially, I had a multirisk university course considering at the same time professional, natural and technological risks. Afterwards, I had the benefit of several experiences with large industrial groups such as Total and Schneider Electric. In parallel to my university career and later to my professional activity, I have also been a volunteer fireman for 17 years now. I have always had this multi-risk approach with a strong affinity for crisis management. So it was important to gather all these aspects. 


The team is young and it is important, because it allows us to retain the talent, especially interns and students who come to RisCrises. Having a young team in the field of risk management and crisis management also allows paradigms to evolve. A young team can more easily get rid of preconceived ideas and innovate in crisis management. It is true that we had to look for experience when we needed it, but today, after 7 years running the company, we have developed our own experience. And we can count on our network of specialists when needed.  


IGNASI – So what is your differentiator? Because it’s a complicated and mature market, risk management…It must not be easy all the time.  


HOILID – Yes, this market is quite mature, but we have brought a multi-risk approach that knows how to stand out. We deal for example with new approaches as cascade and domino effects or global approach to risk management. This is why we have specialists in professional, technological and natural risks. Having a transversal aspect in crisis management represents a real added value.  


CORENTIN – To complete what Hoilid has just said, I would say that our feedback on what is being done, in terms of emergency plans in particular, in risk management is often marked by a lack of operationality. We wanted to bring this operationality to all our deliverables and our cartographic renderings in order to allow our users, whether they are specialists or non-specialists in risk and crisis management, to mobilize them in the best possible way during an emergency situation.  Bringing this very operational character to our deliverables, to the tools we develop, is also what makes us different. And this operationality also comes from the fact that we take it to heart to meet the needs of the client, by going further than the existing regulatory obligations and co-constructing something coherent and pleasant to use. This is important, because it reduces the anxiety-inducing nature of risk management, especially during periods of stress.  


IGNASI – Let’s talk a little about France. As you are in France, you are familiar with this market, which is quite advanced in these areas. We often hear the idea of the modernization of civil security and the need for inter-communal resilience. For you, what are the challenges to be met in terms of risk management and resilience? Do you have any proposals? What do you think of the notion of intercommunal resilience? What are your proposals for the future? 


CORENTIN: If you’ll allow me, Hoilid, I can start. I will only address one point. I have worked a lot on communal protection plans and these are now at the heart of society’s solutions. Within the framework of the modernization of civil security, this inter-communal approach is an element that stands out a lot today. With this approach, governance and risk management extend beyond individual boundaries. We are therefore thinking about the parameters that will enable us to unite all these municipalities around the same objective. At our level, we try to encourage this approach through our services. Through all our exchanges, we see the importance of the pedagogical approach with local decision-makers, but also the need to take into account territorial specificities which are often very disparate between communes.  


 There is therefore a great deal of work to be done in terms of consultation and governance in setting up organizations, tools, etc.  The inter-municipal approach therefore includes municipalities with very different PCSs. Some are very synthetic, others take the form of 200-page manuscripts, with or without maps. Their levels of operationality are completely different. Yet this criterion is important in a crisis situation. It is essential to guarantee the coherence of the materials used if one wishes to operate on an intermunicipal scale.  


The reason I’m talking about this is because of our feedback on the missions carried out with Bordeaux metropole. We were commissioned to harmonize the existing supports of the different communes of a given sector within the framework of an intermunicipal approach. It was a question of proposing standardized supports and organizations that would allow them to react in a concerted manner in a crisis situation. The fact of having common visual supports allows to optimize their exchange in case of crisis. In fact, I think that this standardization of supports is very important. 


Finally, there are also tools available that, with the help of technology, can meet new needs and help risk management evolve.  Solutions such as Rezilio make it possible to dematerialize supports and facilitate their updating and use. They allow the creation of a common front, based on common language elements, which ultimately leads to a real common risk management.  


HOILID: I will go back to what Corentin said. He talked about governance and you have to know that in France the communal level is very marked and very present in people’s lives. There is a legal and operational aspect that is really strong. We are getting better and better at thinking at the intermunicipal level, especially when it comes to crisis management. As we know, hazards do not respect and do not follow the limits of the municipalities. Having a global vision is therefore important, but the educational approach, by raising awareness and developing a common risk culture, are elements on which we will have to work. A tool such as Rezilio will link all the neighbouring municipalities. In doing so, it is a way for us to overcome certain difficulties of a political nature, for example, or related to neighborhood conflicts. Faced with this type of difficulty, a tool of this type makes it possible to federate the actors around crisis management, to mobilize resources and to compensate for the weak capacities of certain municipalities.  


IGNASI – Well, I thank you for these elements of reflection. You have already answered very well the questions I wanted to ask you… you talked about this intermunicipal approach, which is very interesting. I also assume that this approach is getting a new impetus with the advent of COVID19?  Do you think that COVID19 has made organizations aware of the value of being well prepared? 


HOILID.- Undoubtedly I want to answer yes… especially because many aspects of crisis management are present. COVID19 made decision-makers aware that a crisis could occur on a different scale and that it could be combined with other crises. However, there will always be, I think, cultural blockages on the anticipation of a major crisis. Moreover, this pandemic has been around for a long time. This temporality has created a kind of habituation and, as we can see on an individual level, a certain adaptation and less fear. As for other risks, the fact of being confronted with it regularly can have the perverse effect of reducing vigilance levels and underestimating one’s preparedness. Despite this, I think that we will have less and less difficulty in integrating a risk management and crisis management approach following this pandemic, as it has provided many feedbacks.  


IGNASI: Finally, in all these reflections on crisis management, you have talked about the use of tools like Rezilio. Can you tell me how you see innovation in this sector? You must know that in Europe there is a lot of talk about innovation through large European funds for example. Often this innovation is brought to the market by many technologies. However, once the products are created, it is rare to see them on the market and/or they are not used by the final customers. What is your vision on this point? What kind of innovation does our sector need? How do you see this idea of innovation that all governments are talking about? In our sector, is there really innovation? Are there really outcomes behind it or do we have to dig deeper to convince the market? 

 “We realize that there are also needs that concern the general public, for users who may or may not be specialists in risk and crisis management. Therefore, the realization of innovative solutions by managers for managers”

CORENTIN – I have some thougths about that… Today, as you say, there is a lot of innovation, technological developments, tools, products, services that emerge, but there are a lot of them that are made a little bit in the middle, by crisis managers for crisis managers. Some of them work very well when the need and the users are very targeted. But when we question innovation on a larger scale, we realize that there are also needs that concern the general public, for users who may or may not be specialists in risk and crisis management. Therefore, the realization of innovative solutions by managers for managers loses some of its meaning. 

I think there is an obligation for innovation to also include a popularization part, a user experience part, a data enhancement part, a support part. Things that are not necessarily found in many innovations today. We realize that there is also a lot of “lost” knowledge, in the sense that in order to access the data put forward by these innovations, one must already have skills that some people do not necessarily have. So I think that innovation lies in the capacity to allow everyone to use these tools and services while being guided in order to fully integrate this notion of usability into everyday life. I think that as long as we create crisis management tools that are used exclusively for crisis management, we will have missed the boat a little.  The frequency of events is not all the same and if these solutions are not integrated into continuous habits, there will be a risk of seeing them underused. This is the fruit of success in my opinion. 

“The frequency of events is not all the same and if these solutions are not integrated into continuous habits, there will be a risk of seeing them underused. This is the fruit of success”

IGNASI – Well, this is what we are trying to do together with you and with Rezilio. I would like to take advantage of this intervention to make a short announcement on the possibilities that the partnership between your company and Rezilio offers in order to achieve these objectives of innovation by bringing a tool made according to the needs of the customers and the needs of the market. 


HOILID. – I am sure Ignasi and what is interesting about Rezilio is that there are no geographical limits. It’s a tool that comes from Canada, where the people involved in the project come from different places, including you from Spain, and for which we bring our vision of the French context.  I think that this tool will in itself federate different points of view and bring out the best in everyone. What is reassuring for us is also that the tool was designed by crisis management specialists. We are thus able to avoid the difficulties we have already seen with other innovations, which were mainly developed by computer scientists who, even though they are obviously very competent, lack that essential little touch of experience in crisis management. 


IGNASI.-And the knowledge of the sector…thank you for this intervention. Finally, what are your business projects? How do you see the future? I would say that apparently in our sector of activity this future will be quite full, because there is still a lot of work to do, but also because people have become a little more aware of the risks and the need to be prepared. For your company, your team, what are your plans? Tell us about it.   


HOILID.- We will continue to develop the multi-risk approach because a crisis has multiple consequences. I am talking about domino effects, but also about the importance of working on the anticipation of these consequences in order to avoid the crisis beforehand. It is a question of preparing for any eventuality using the tools available, such as training and awareness-raising resources, in order to increase the culture of risk and crisis. In the future, we hope to be able to continue to innovate in order to provide clients with the range of solutions they will need.  


CORENTIN – That’s right, it’s really about being a single point of contact thanks to our team of experts in all areas, while also providing training. Training that aims to test the validity of our planning documents before a crisis period, during one, but also afterwards during recovery periods. We also benefit from a cartographic center offering very advanced solutions based on the work of doctors. It is true that we have not mentioned our R&D pole which today allows us to attack and integrate ourselves in a perpetual way in this new normal by relying on the greatest advances in terms of reflection, tools and methodologies in the fields of risk management, cartography, communication and preventive information. We really try to take the best of each sector and to make today a complete range of solutions so that each customer can see RisCrises as the unique interlocutor when we talk about risks and crises. 


IGNASI – Thank you both very much. I hope in any case that a beautiful future awaits us and that we can work together in France and why not internationally. You know, we are open to the world and for us there are no more borders, especially as Hoilid has shown with its truly global approach. Thank you very much and good continuation 

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