Studenten Tilburg University Landelijk Operationeel Team

Three students on internship at National Corona Team

Published: 08th May 2020 Last updated: 11th May 2020

Bram Verhoeven, Nikki van Emmerloot, and Frederik Venneman, three Information Management Master’s students, were already well on their way with their graduation research projects on crisis management, guided by their thesis supervisor Dr. Kenny Meesters, when the corona crisis erupted. As a crisis expert, Kenny Meesters had been appointed to the national operational team on corona (LOT-C) in Zeist. This proved to be a blessing in disguise for the three students: as a result, they were allowed to work for the team as well, a rare opportunity to obtain a wealth of information and experience for their graduation research. All three students have been keeping a diary for a week about their work at LOT-C.

LOT-C is a multi-disciplinary team consisting of representatives from numerous organizations, including the Ministry of Defense, the police, the Provincial Executive, the fire brigade and the Netherlands Institute for Safety (IFV). But also information management experts like Kenny Meesters have been added to this team. LOT-C functions as an information source for dealing with the corona virus outbreak and liaises with all Security Regions, emergency services, and the central government.

Monday 20-04-2020 - Bram Verhoeven
Drie studenten op stage bij het Landelijk Operationeel Team Corona
Monday 20-04-2020 - Bram Verhoeven

Since the organization is growing all the time, it is important to look into data security.

Tuesday 21-04-2020 - Nikki van Emmerloot

Drie studenten op stage bij het Landelijk Operationeel Team Corona

Early on the road again today: although Zeist is centrally located, I’m traveling from the countryside between the rivers Meuse and Waal these days. The day started with my car breaking down. I hope this is not an indication for how things will go the rest of the day. Fortunately, my day turned out OK. I started with the update that is shared with external parties. This update contains information on how things are going, e.g., with scarcities in health care, the critical infrastructure, applications for social assistance, and public policy and safety. 

We try to provide the update in such a way that it is clear in four sheets of paper whether a serious situation is developing on a certain point or that everything is under control and there are no problems. In the past week, I have updated information more clearly mapping the number of care locations in the Netherlands and to what extent they are equipped with medical resources. As a result, the situation is clear and further decisions can be made on this issue. The information for the update comes from the Security Regions in the Netherlands, from news items but, maybe even more importantly, from everything we pick up around us. In between, I attended a number of meetings to keep minutes, but also to take notes for my own research. I also had an interesting interview with my LOT-C internship supervisor. Everything I experience teaches me something new on the organization and the interests involved. Fascinating.

We try to provide the update in such a way that it is clear in four sheets of paper whether a serious situation is developing on a certain point or that everything is under control and there are no problems.

At the end of the day, I had another consultation with thesis supervisor Kenny Meesters on the design of my thesis and what I will be doing the rest of the week. In this way, we want to make sure that I can stick to the planning of my graduation project.

Wednesday 22-04-2020 - Frederik Venneman

Thursday 23-04-2020 - Frederik Venneman

Today, in addition to administrative duties and supporting Section members, I have to update the daily SitRep. This is the internal update that the Head of our Section takes along to the Heads of Sections consultations. This SitRep contains structured information on what every cell is working on, what activities are scheduled and what activities have been completed.

Drie studenten op stage bij het Landelijk Operationeel Team Corona

This kind of documentation proves to be very important in this organization. Since, in a crisis, you cannot know or remember everything, it is crucial that information is turned into sizeable chunks. This takes us a large part of the week to do. The information that is in the air here at LOT-C, at the Continuity and Scarcity Section, and around here is turned into in clear documents in which the necessary information can be easily retrieved.

Since, in a crisis, you cannot know or remember everything, it is crucial that information is turned into sizeable chunks.

Later that day, I drafted a debriefing. In this document, processes and ideas are elaborated in a structured way so that they can be retrieved for those who are interested or involved. After that, I elaborated a process flow. During meetings, many post-its, white boards, and flip-overs are used. It is nice and easy, but rather fleeting and not very sustainable. Therefore we usually make digital versions of this documentation if there is a need to keep it. These files are submitted for comments and updated where necessary.

Friday 24-04-2020 - Nikki van Emmerloot & Bram Verhoeven
Drie studenten op stage bij het Landelijk Operationeel Team Corona

Key takeaways: Apart from the fact that we had an inside look in a crisis management organization, it was also very interesting to see what is important information in a crisis like this one. Like the Prime Minister said: we have to make 100% of the decisions with 50% of the information. Together with LOT-C, we are making every effort to make sure that this 50% increases every day thanks to the information that we as an organization gather, process, and forward to the people who need to make the decisions for the Netherlands as a whole.