The city's crisis management model for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic effective and efficient

The results of the third external study on the management of the City of Helsinki's coronavirus crisis have been received. Previous studies by KPMG Oy were published in the summers of 2020 and 2021. The latest study covers the period from summer 2021 to summer 2022. The study shows that the city-level crisis management model in Helsinki remains effective and efficient. The maturity of the crisis organisational structure and decision-making processes is reflected in the fact that the leadership changes in the office of mayor and the three divisional directors during the period under review have not had a significant impact on the functioning of the Coordination Group or on the city's decision-making capacity.

There have been no significant changes in the organisation of the City of Helsinki's crisis organisation, the Coronavirus Coordination Group and its related sub-groups, during the period under review. Based on the findings of the study, the crisis organisations within the divisions and other entities of the city group have also functioned well throughout the pandemic. As the crisis has dragged on, the crisis organisations of the divisions and other entities of the city group have reached a state where the compiling of situational reports, preparation and decision-making have been efficient and appropriate.

The city has maintained the situational level achieved during 2021. The production of situational reports has become a routine task that has become less of a burden for those responsible for compiling them. However, the changed nature of the pandemic means that the development of the production of situational reports will require clearer prioritisation and a form of cost-benefit analysis.

The city's internal and external communications continued to function appropriately and effectively during the period under review. Communication skills are closely integrated into the activities of the various crisis organisations in the city group. Communication cooperation between operators in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area has also continued to be strong.

The prolongation of the coronavirus crisis continues to challenge the personnel of the city's different divisions asymmetrically. At the same time, the impact of the war in Ukraine has increased the burden on certain groups of personnel. The pressures of the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis and the labour shortages that existed before it are also having a significant impact on the resilience of city personnel.

Background information

The study was carried out by KPMG Oy, a management consultancy. Developments in the second full year of coronavirus were assessed against the findings of previous studies carried out in 2020 and 2021. The focus areas of the study were the functioning and overall organisation of the crisis management model, the creation of a situational reports for crisis management, the decision-making capacity and decision-making processes of the city's crisis organisation, and communication. On the basis of the study, measures are being planned to improve the management of possible new outbreaks of coronavirus or similar exceptional situations. The study does not include an assessment of the impact on residents or stakeholders.of the measures taken in response to the coronavirus crisis.

The study focuses on the period between summer 2021 in summer 2022 when the coronavirus pandemic also changed significantly. This one-year period saw the global spread of the new omicron variant and a significant increase in the number of infections. The significant spread of the new variant challenged the health care capacity of different countries. However, the relative proportion of serious infections and mortality caused by the omicron variant compared to the number of infections decreased significantly as a result of changes in virus characteristics, increased vaccination coverage and improved treatment methods.

The past year also saw a global shift in attitudes to the coronavirus pandemic, and the drive towards a more normal life was reflected in the spring of 2022 in the widespread lifting of restrictions and the response of citizens and the media to the crisis. New international crises such as the war in Ukraine and its spillover effects also contributed to this.

The main objective of the follow-up report was to bring together the key lessons learned, successes and good practices in the management of the more than two-year-long coronavirus crisis, as well as factors that should be taken into account or improved in the city's crisis management and management system for similar prolonged crises. The report also maps out in more detail than before the activities of the crisis organisations in the different divisions.

In connection with the study, members of the City of Helsinki's Coronavirus Coordination Group, experts involved in crisis communication and experts in various preparatory tasks were heard. The authors of the study have access to the Coordination Group's meetings materials and decision documents, as well as to the situational report material produced by the City of Helsinki. The authors of the report have also been provided with material produced by the city on decision-making and implementation related to the coronavirus crisis, as well as updated progress reports on monitoring the impact of the crisis on different target groups. As separate documentary material, the authors had access to the Helsinki City Group's preparedness instructions and material produced and analysed by the City of Helsinki and its partners on communication and media monitoring.

More information:
KPMG: Study on lessons learned, good practices and needs for change from a crisis management perspective in the coronavirus crisis (in Finnish)

Photo: KPMG