August, 21 2021


Operational Readiness



01. The Challenge

In 2019, we were selected to provide Operational Readiness services for the Dubai Expo 2020, originally scheduled to take place in the United Arab Emirates between October 2020 and April 2021. The six-month event was due to see 25 million visits to the innovative pavilions of 192 participating countries, all on a site that evolved from a single tree in the desert two years earlier over an area spanning the size of 600 football pitches (438 hectares).

As the largest international event ever staged in the Arab world – with around 300,000 meals served on a daily basis – key challenges for organisers included: recruiting and managing the workforce; security concerns, managing and tracking entry and exit from the site; establishing transport links to the rest of the city, connecting the subway and bus systems as well as two major freeways running adjacent to the site with major exits leading directly into the site; defining communications channels for staff and ensuring these were adequately tested. With the COVID-19 pandemic delaying the event by one year, organisers ultimately had to overhaul the entire business strategy.

Our expert international team with large scale programme delivery experience was contracted to support the internal Readiness team in place and to deliver Readiness exercises on a full scale, with the aim of achieving overall Operational Readiness of the organisation as a whole and deliver a successful event. Expo 2020 wasn’t just looking to the future once the event had started, there was a real commitment to new approaches in development and planning. Ikosaeder saw it  as an opportunity to explore new ideas and adapt our experience to such a complex challenge.


02. The Solution

We reviewed existing services, analysed Functional Operating plans and strategically advised Expo 2020 on Operational Readiness and programme design; we developed a Readiness programme implementation approach and activities including operational walkthroughs, simulations, etc.; we ensured the integration of our team with client teams to form one Readiness delivery team.

From a Communication Command Control (C3) perspective, we supported the client in the development of the Expo wide C3 Governance framework. With our simulation methodology we facilitated a stakeholder and delivery partner integration process with Dubai Police, Transport authorities and others; we designed and delivered C3 stress testing simulations.

We also worked on people capability development, forming an ad-hoc Readiness team composed of 12 international Readiness experts responding to the client. We coached client teams on Readiness planning and delivery aspects, trained the Parc Operation Centre management team and trained teams on routine issue response.


03. The Outcome

The intended Operational Readiness programme included:

  • Delivery of 30 operational walkthroughs
  • Supporting the delivery of Test Events 1,2,3,4 (10,000+ participants)
  • Delivery of three Expo-wide readiness simulations (250+ participants each)
  • Developing 30 simulations for testing operations (50+ participants each)
  • 2 international participants tabletops (192 participating countries each)
  • Development of Test Event delivery plans for Test Events 5,6,7
  • Delivery of Test Event 5 (16,000 visitors)
  • Delivery of Test Event 6 (4,000 visitors in one night)
  • Delivery of Test Event 7 (10,000 visitors over the course of two days)
  • Readiness reporting and continuous improvement
  • Operational Readiness strategy and implementation consulting
  • A revised post Covid-19 pandemic Readiness strategy

The programme was successfully underway until all Expo 2020 related planning and Readiness activities were suspended due to the outbreak of the pandemic. Our work resumed in Summer 2021, on track for the organisers to deliver the event in October.

Expo 2020 Al Wasl

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