Shanghai Foreign Affairs Officials Learn the Value of Public/Private Partnerships From Chicago Workshop

By Donna Kobzaruk, Chair of the BOMA/Chicago Emergency Preparedness Committee

More than a dozen government officials from the Shanghai Foreign Affairs Office (FAO) learned firsthand about the value and benefits of public/private cooperation before, during and after an emergency situation thanks to a recent five-day workshop held here in late July.

The workshop for officials for the Shanghai FAO was held in the Gleacher Center.

The event, “How the Shanghai Foreign Affairs Office Can Better Coordinate with Foreign NGOs,” was coordinated through the University of Chicago’s The Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies and held in the Gleacher Center.  Former Chicago Police Department commander Neil Sullivan, one of Chicago’s (and the nation’s) foremost authorities on security and emergency preparedness, took the lead on developing the program.

The curriculum was designed to provide our guests from Shanghai – 14 Chinese foreign affairs officials and four security/public safety professionals – with a solid perspective on the value behind the United States’ style of emergency planning and management.  Two key goals were to:

  1. Share best practices that have been proven to work through many years of cooperation between the private sector and government; and
  2. Illustrate examples on how the Shanghai government can cultivate similar relationships with non-government organizations.

Subject matter experts from across the region shared insight on how FEMA works, how the private sectors should respond during a fire emergency, media relations during a crisis situation, strategies on forming public/private partnerships and others.  As the Chair of the BOMA/Chicago Emergency Preparedness Committee, I was honored to lead an afternoon discussion on Day Four: “Private Sector & Government Relationships in Crisis Management Planning.”

And we took it a step further by inviting the delegation to attend a Committee meeting to illustrate the planning process between the business community and the public sector.  We even invited Gary Schenkel, Executive Director of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, to provide a report on the public/private cooperative efforts that were made before, during and after the May NATO Summit here.

Downtown Chicago During the NATO Summit in May 2012. Cooperation between the public and private sectors was critical in maintaining order during the Summit.

Since some of our guests were not fluent in the English language, we had to use a translator. During question and answer exchanges, we learned that police and public safety officials in Shanghai do not have strong partnerships with private businesses.  And there’s some mistrust between both sides in the culture there, which is very structured.

This exploratory visit from the Shanghai delegation was a great first step toward forming the kind of strong working partnership between business and government that we’ve proven works.  Do you have any insight to share on how we can “export” our best emergency preparedness practices?

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About DonnaKobzaruk

Chair of the BOMA/Chicago Emergency Preparedness Committee
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