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Spring Journal

Volume 28, Issue 2

Full Contents Now Available!

Jon Seals

Caringo Swarm HadoopFS, native Hadoop Connector now available


AUSTIN, Texas – Caringo® today announced the availability of Swarm HadoopFS, a native Hadoop 2+ connector for Caringo Swarm that saves time and resources with highly-efficient direct parallel map reduce processing, paired with compliance features such as WORM, integrity seals and Legal Hold. 

Using Hadoop for data processing and analytics typically involves a time-consuming and resource-intensive bulk-load of a data from an archive or file server into the Hadoop FileSystem (HDFS). With Caringo's direct approach, HDFS can read data directly from Swarm and, because of Swarm’s unique massively parallel approach where all nodes cooperate to perform all processes, each HDFS server can pull data in parallel. This eliminates the time-consuming extract and ingest step, resulting in faster time to the map reduce stage while reducing reliance on expensive NAS or filer storage in a Hadoop environment. 

Additionally, organizations can use the standard compliance and data protection features in Swarm to ensure their data is safe, accessible and hasn’t been tampered with. Swarm supports the ability to store data so that it can’t be deleted (WORM); the ability to prove in a court of law content hasn’t been tampered with (Integrity Seals); and the ability to take a snapshot of data and store it immutably (Legal Hold). These features combined with Swarm’s ability to automatically manage the data lifecycle, moving from erasure coding or replication all on the same servers, make Swarm the best option for organizations that want to leverage Hadoop but have stringent regulatory requirements.

“The ability to quickly analyze and act upon data is a key competitive advantage,” said Mark Goros, CEO of Caringo. “Organizations of every size understand this and have been deploying Hadoop clusters in a fragmented nature, often relying on HDFS with JBOD for long-term storage which it wasn’t designed for. With SwarmFS we enable resilient, compliant and highly efficient long-term storage for all unstructured data in a highly automated fashion. This includes data that you may not even know you want to analyze yet, all instantly accessible by Hadoop in a direct, massively parallel fashion.”


Caringo Swarm HadoopFS is available now. For more information visit www.caringo.com/hadoop.


About Caringo

Caringo ensures data is available when and where needed. Its Software-defined Object Storage Solution, Caringo Swarm, turns standard hardware into a reliable pool of resources that adapts to any workload or use case while offering a foundation for new data services. Caringo is helping organizations of every size by eliminating the complexity of legacy storage while ensuring data is accessible from any application or device. 

RTS Associates saves 30% on field labor costs and improves customer service with Flowfinity mobile solution

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Flowfinity Wireless Inc., a proven provider of enterprise mobile apps, today released a new case study featuring RTS Associates. This utility contractor replaced paper inspection forms with amobile data collection solution to reduce additional labor costs by 30%. The solution was designed in less than a day.  

Prior to adopting Flowfinity, the company's field personnel would record inspection data on paper and spend evening hours transcribing information into spreadsheets. This led to delays, inaccuracies and high labor costs.

The management team selected Flowfinity, a flexible mobile form and workflow platform, to replace paper inspection forms with a mobile solution. They achieved a quick deployment by opting for a cloud hosted solution and Flowfinity Professional Services to customize the app. The solution was designed to match the exact deliverables required by RTS Associates' clients, and can be easily updated when client requirements change.

Field personnel at RTS Associates now enter inspection information in iPads throughout the workday, and the data is immediately sent to management for review. With more accurate, real-time data, management has successfully reduced the time required to review project results from several days to just 20 minutes. The faster turnaround time allows clients to receive job reports faster.

"Once I saw the capabilities the Flowfinity mobile platform and how you could customize it, I knew it was exactly what we needed. It's a very agile platform," said Ryan Hart, Director of Wireless Operations, RTS Associates. "I did a quick calculation on the cost of the app compared to what I spend on labor for data entry, and saw that the software would pay for itself almost immediately."

To read the case study, visit http://www.flowfinity.com/customers/rts-associates.aspx.

 

About Flowfinity

Flowfinity provides a proven, fully customizable solution for building enterprise mobile apps without programming. Since 2000, Flowfinity has helped leading companies across industries improve productivity, engage management, and improve business insight through all areas of the organization. By making it easy and fast to mobilize day-to-day business processes on smartphones and tablets, Flowfinity enables mobile teams to access, survey, report, and share information when and where they need to. Top global brands in consumer goods and other industries rely on Flowfinity software as the standard technology for automating critical business processes. For more information, visit http://www.flowfinity.com.

Wednesday, 08 October 2014 21:00

Erosion Threat Assessment Reduction Team

Erosion Threat Assessment Reduction Team (ETART) is a multijurisdictional, interdisciplinary team formed jointly by FEMA and the State of Washington in response to the 2014 Central Washington wildfires to address the threat of flooding, mudslides, debris flows and other erosion over the approximately 415 square miles of burned lands.(For a landownership breakdown, see the following map and chart.)

In the summer of 2014, the Carlton Complex Fire burned more than 250,000 acres of land in Washington, the largest wildfire in state history. The fire burned private, federal, state and tribal lands, consumed 300 homes and destroyed critical infrastructure in its path. Then intense rainstorms over the scarred landscape caused more damage from flooding, mudslides and debris flow.

Fire suppression costs topped $68 million. But post-fire recovery costs have yet to be tallied.

Given the size and severity of the fire, President Obama issued a major disaster declaration on Aug. 11, which authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate federal disaster relief and to help state, tribal and local agencies recover from the disaster.

Once firefighters contained the Carlton fire on Aug. 25, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) deployed its Burn Area Emergency Response (BAER) team to measure soil quality, assess watershed changes, identify downstream risks and develop recommendations to treat burned federal lands.

FEMA officials and the BAER team acted fast. They knew more floods may follow without vegetation to soak up rainwater. More silt and debris in the runoff can plug culverts and raise water levels, which may further threaten downstream communities and properties.

To reduce the vulnerability of those downstream communities, FEMA created ETART. Modeled after BAER, ETART would measure soil quality, assess watershed changes, identify downstream risks and develop recommendations to treat burned state, tribal and private lands.

FEMA and the State of Washington recruited biologists, engineers, hydrologists, mapping experts, range specialists, soil scientists and support staff from more than 17 entities.

SPIRIT OF COOPERATION

ETART participants include: Cascadia Conservation District, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, FEMA, Methow Conservancy, National Weather Service (NWS), Okanogan Conservation District, Skagit Conservation District, Spokane Conservation District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of the Interior, USFS, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, Whatcom Conservation District and Yakama Nation Fisheries.

Team members scored the benefits of working together across jurisdictional boundaries and overlapping authorities right away. To start, they stitched their maps together and overlaid their findings to gain consistency and a better perspective. Field assessments used extensive soil sampling. Computer modeling showed the probability of debris flow and other hazards.

Standard fixes in their erosion control toolbox include seeding and other ground treatments, debris racks, ditch protection, temporary berms, low-water crossings and sediment retention basins. Suggested treatments were evaluated based on their practical and technical feasibility.

Regional conservation districts provided a vital and trusted link to private landowners. They:
• held public meetings and acted as the hub of communications
• posted helpful links on their websites
• collected information on damage to crops, wells, fences, livestock and irrigation systems
• secured necessary permits that grant state and federal workers access to private property to assess conditions.

Local residents shared up-to-the minute information on road conditions and knew which seed mixtures worked best for their area. Residents proved key to the success of ETART.

Note: Teams found a few positive consequences of the wildfire. For instance, debris flow delivered more wood and gravel downstream, which may create a better fish habitat once the debris and sediment settle.  The resultant bedload may enhance foraging, spawning and nesting for endangered species, such as Steelhead, Bull Trout and Spring Chinook Salmon.

STRENGTH OF COLLECTIVE ACTION

Final reports from BAER and ETART have helped several state agencies formulate and prioritize their projects, and leverage their budget requests for more erosion control funds.

Landowners and managers might share equipment, gain economies of scale and develop more cost-effective solutions. In the end, collaboration and collective action may avert future flooding.

CULTURE OF RESILIENCE

While public health and safety remain the top priority, other values at risk include property, natural resources, fish and wildlife habitats, as well as cultural and heritage sites.

Estimated costs for the emergency restoration and recovery recommendations on federal lands run $1.5 million. For short-term stabilization, USFS initiated funding requests for seeding and mulching urgent areas before the first snowfall. Other suggested treatments include bigger culverts, more warning signs and the improvement of road drainage systems.

For state and private lands, emergency restoration and recovery recommendations may cost in excess of $2.8 million. Erosion controls include seeding, invasive species removal and the construction of berms and barriers. In its final report, ETART also recommended better early warning systems, more warning signs on county roads and electronic message signs to aid residents evacuating via highways.

Landowners, managers and agencies continue to search for funding to pay for implementation. For instance, BLM regulations may allow it to seed its lands, as well as adjoining properties, after a wildfire. Select state agencies may provide seedlings, technical assistance on tree salvaging, or partial reimbursement for pruning, brush removal and weed control.

Knowing a short period of moderate rainfall on burned areas can lead to flash floods, the NWS placed seven real-time portable gauges in September to monitor rainfall in and around the area, and plans to place eight more rain gauges in the coming weeks. The NWS will issue advisory Outlooks, Watches and Warnings, which will be disseminated to the public and emergency management personnel through the NWS Advanced Weather Information Processing System.

Certain projects may qualify for FEMA Public Assistance funds. Under this disaster declaration, FEMA will reimburse eligible tribes, state agencies, local governments and certain private nonprofits in Kittitas and Okanogan counties for 75 percent of the cost of eligible emergency protective measures.

Successful ETARTs replicated in the future may formalize interagency memorandums of understanding, develop more comprehensive community wildfire protection plans and promote even greater coordination of restoration and recovery activities following major wildfires.

Wednesday, 08 October 2014 20:59

Scenario Based vs Impact Based Planning

I have participated in a number of conversations where people argue what the basis for business continuity plans should be.  Some people say you should have plans designed for specific threats inherent in your environment and others say that “what” happens is not important; plans should be based on the impacts of what happened and not the event itself.  I say, they are both right, in a way.

Business continuity planning, I think, has evolved over time and has expanded in scope of what it tries to achieve.  I’m not sure why we have gotten away from the term “contingency plans”, but I think Business Continuity Planning today includes both emergency response components and contingency planning components.

Considering these two components of the overall program, I think the Emergency Response part, that part that addresses how an organization responds to an incident should, in fact, have scenario specific components for the known risks and threats in the area where you do business.  If you have facilities in hurricane regions, you absolutely should have Hurricane Preparedness Plans.  Same goes for if you have facilities on fault lines; in flood plains; near active volcanoes; near nuclear power plants; etc.  When specific threats arise, like pandemics, for example, your organization should develop a scenario specific plan for prevention and contention techniques for that exact threat.

...

http://safeharborconsulting.biz/blog2/2014/10/08/scenario-based-vs-impact-based-planning/

(MCT) A few years ago a group of researchers used computer modeling to put California through a nightmare scenario: Seven decades of unrelenting mega-drought similar to those that dried out the state in past millennia.

"The results were surprising," said Jay Lund, one of the academics who conducted the study.

The California economy would not collapse. The state would not shrivel into a giant, abandoned dust bowl. Agriculture would shrink but by no means disappear.

Traumatic changes would occur as developed parts of the state shed an unsustainable gloss of green and dropped what many experts consider the profligate water ways of the 20th century. But overall, "California has a remarkable ability to weather extreme and prolonged droughts from an economic perspective," said Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/In-Virtual-Mega-Drought-California-Avoids-Defeat-EM.html

(MCT) — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has declared Ebola a public health emergency and authorized officials to quarantine anyone who may have been exposed to or infected with the virus.

Though Ebola has not been reported anywhere near Connecticut, the order is a precautionary measure and just one of several actions being taken to guard against the disease in the state.

"Right now, we have no reason to think that anyone in the state is infected or at risk of infection," Malloy said in a news release. "But it is essential to be prepared, and we need to have the authorities in place that will allow us to move quickly to protect public health if and when that becomes necessary."

With more than 7,000 people sickened and more than 3,000 killed by the virus in West Africa, fears spiked last week with the announcement that Ebola was found in a man who had traveled from Liberia to Dallas.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/health/Connecticut-Health-Leaders-Quarantine-Ebola.html

By 2017, half of employers will require employees to provide their own mobile devices for work use, Gartner reports. There are many benefits to BYOD policies, from greater productivity on devices users are more comfortable with to lower corporate costs when businesses do not have to purchase mobile equipment or service plans. But securing these devices poses tremendous risk that may not be worth the reward. According to data security firm Bitdefender, 33% of U.S. employees who use their own devices for work do not meet minimum security standards for protecting company data. In fact, 40% do not even activate the most basic layer of protection: activating lock-screen features. Further, while the majority of workers could access their employer’s secure network connection, only half do so.

Bitdefender reports that there are 5 core security functionalities a strong BYOD policy should check:

...

http://www.riskmanagementmonitor.com/33-of-employees-fail-to-meet-minimum-security-standards-for-byod/

To respond effectively during a disaster, it’s first vital to understand the demographics of residents and visitors. Most offices of emergency management maintain detailed inventories of critical infrastructure, their vulnerabilities, states of repair and hotspots around their jurisdictions frequently impacted such as roads that consistently flood or ice over. However, the same amount of critical information is rarely available about the community’s most valuable asset — its people.

Just as other significant storms have in the past, Hurricane Sandy served as a strong reminder of the importance of having access to critical information about the individuals who reside in or commute to an area. Nearly half the victims of the storm were age 65 or older, similar to that of Hurricane Katrina where 71 percent of those who died were 60 or older. Recent lawsuits brought against the cities of New York and Los Angeles (as well as Los Angeles County) have reinforced the importance of anticipating and preparing for the needs of some of the population who might require additional or specialized assistance during a disaster. It’s hard to say whether knowledge of the locations of older residents or those with other needs, particularly along coastal areas, would have reduced the death toll during Sandy, but having access to more information is always better when managing response to a disaster.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Overcoming-Challenges-Protecting-Vulnerable-Populations.html

While low interest rates are likely to continue to present a challenge well into 2015, a stronger economy presents the property/casualty insurance industry’s best opportunity for growth, according to I.I.I. president Dr. Robert Hartwig.

Dr. Hartwig shared his thoughts on the industry’s growth outlook in his Commentary on 2014 First Half Results.

There are two principal drivers of premium growth in the P/C insurance industry he noted: exposure growth and rate activity.

Exposure growth—basically an increase in the number and/or value of insurable interests (such as property and liability risks)—is being fueled primarily by economic growth and development.

Although the nation’s real (inflation-adjusted) GDP in the first quarter of 2014 actually declined at an annual rate of -2.1 percent, economic growth snapped back in the second quarter, as real GDP surged by 4.6 percent.

...

http://www.iii.org/insuranceindustryblog/?p=3808

Wednesday, 08 October 2014 20:51

Security Is Job One

There are very few more pressing issues in management today than cyber security. Notice that I didn’t say IT management; I said management. When the hacking of a major US retailer (Target) leads to the loss of billions of dollars in stock value and sales and the removal of not only the CSO, but the CIO and ultimately the CEO as well, stockholders, investors, and customers take notice.

Organizations worldwide depend increasingly on information and communications technology to operate and manage 24/7/365, and wireless devices, BYOD, social media, and the like all combine to make the jobs of those responsible for cyber security exponentially more difficult. Like the Dutch boy and the dike, security people worldwide have too many holes to plug and too few arms and fingers. Recently, I was watching a 1960s spy movie in which the agent had to find and access physical documents on site, take pictures of them, reduce the photos to microdots, paste the dots in place of periods in another document, and then smuggle those documents past the authorities. Today, an equivalent theft can be done remotely, often from another, hostile country, at light speed. And Edward Snowden’s 2013 disclosures about the doings of the US National Security Agency (NSA) amply demonstrate what a skilled technical organization with nearly unlimited resources can accomplish from half a world away.

...

http://blog.cutter.com/2014/10/07/security-is-job-one/