The “best” test for a BC plan is an actual disaster. As recent disasters have highlighted, they always seem to find the weaknesses in “tested” plans. These weaknesses can result from incorrect assumptions by planners, lack of support for controls by management, management being overwhelmed by the emergency situation or planners lacking the mechanisms to realistically test some disaster scenarios. In any case, the weaknesses in BC plans can have serious negative impacts on the business – the very thing we are trying to avoid. The challenge is improving testing to help identify these weaknesses before a disaster strikes. Tabletop exercises can only go so far but full scale exercises disrupt operations and are expensive.
In the BC world, “emergency response” is generally divided into two time frames: before the arrival of emergency services and after the arrival of emergency services. Successful management of an emergency requires not just good planning, but trained personnel able to handle the pressures of a crisis, especially when lives are at risk. Many disasters also involve careful coordination with emergency services including fire, medical and law enforcement agencies. However, reduced public safety budgets may limit the ability of these agencies to fully participate in exercises. Even with their participation, realistically simulating an actual fire, active shooter, bomb threat or chemical incident in real time is another challenge that can be difficult to overcome.
What is the alternative? Many industries have turned to computer-based simulations to provide realistic training at reduced costs. Can this technology be used for BC plan testing by businesses?
In “Testing Emergency Response in Virtual Reality”, attendees will discover the exciting potential of virtual reality simulation in business continuity testing. The session will show how computer-based technology can be used to enhance BC plan testing to help ensure the organization, its people and its procedures are ready to respond to an emergency.
Troy Neville has over 20 years of experience in information technology and emergency services with an M.S. in Emergency Management and a B.S. in Computer Science. In addition to being certified as an ABCP, he is also a certified Fire Officer III, Fire Service Instructor II and Incident Safety Officer. Troy’s knowledge and experience in both BC and first responder realms will provide a unique perspective to BC plan testing for an emergency response.