At the Frontline: Securing the 2012 GOP convention

Convention security boss says coordinating with authorities, stakeholders among the biggest challenges


In addition to hotels, Concordia said that it's also important to involve local business community so that they have information on things such as traffic, which could impact their operations.

"In Tampa, they have a downtown partnership group that reaches out to both businesses, the offices that are in the high rise buildings, as well as the restaurants. I've spoken to both groups in conjunction with the police chief of Tampa to kind of give them an overview of what our job is, what to expect, but specifically to identify those lines of communication through the police and what the police are doing to setup and communicate with these businesses both before the event and during the event to give them all of the information they need," he said. "We have a proactive stance in working with police and speaking with these groups through the downtown partnership."

Concordia said that he would have a representative in the joint agency command center, which will be established by the Secret Service at the convention to integrate all of the surrounding surveillance camera feeds into a centralized location. However, the former Secret Service agent said that they've placed a special emphasis on IT security and combating the potential for cyber-attacks during the event.

"This year, like in other areas of the corporate world, cyber is huge. We are reaching out to several private cyber firms to kind of do two things; work hand-in-hand with our IT director in creating a system and an environment that is very much forward-leaning, not only in the protection of our information and our proprietary assets, but also forward leaning enough to be able to respond immediately to an incident," Concordia explained.

Perhaps one of the biggest threats to the safety of convention goers is the potential for dangerous storms, which is at the top of the list of potential scenarios that Concordia's team is bracing for.

"We start off internally. What is a crisis? And go through each of those scenarios," he said. "You can 'what if' a situation right on in to infinitum so we keep it realistic. One that's realistic is an array of weather events in area especially during August when there is a high potential for weather events that can be disruptive. Going through (these scenarios) in an informal, tabletop way, kind of identifies who the key players are, who we need to have at that table so that we're positioned well to make the right judgment calls and decisions to move forward."

Despite the fact that a candidate or their campaign staff may opt for a change of plans at the last second during an event like the convention, Concordia said that these tabletop exercises are paramount in preparing for the unexpected.

"We kind of call it an audible. Having practiced different tabletop scenarios and knowing what the parameters are, so that if you have to make an audible call you can certainly feel confident enough... and can go forward and make the best decision you can," he said.