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Volume 30, Issue 3

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 A blogger reported in January that three terrorists infected with a communicable form of avian flu had entered the country and were traveling the country infecting people. The blog claims the United States government is aware of the threat but is not publicizing it to avert panic. The blogger goes on to explain that avian flu is highly communicable, kills 70 percent of those infected, and that there is no effective treatment for it. Moreover, the writer adds the only way to avoid catching the disease is to stay away from anywhere that large numbers of people congregate.

Is your company prepared to deal with a situation like this? Do you know how your employees would respond to such an announcement, particularly if the report is not true? Does your company’s disaster plan take bioterrorist attacks into account?

Most of you reading this article are aware of terrorist threats and have been hardening your companies against them. But let me draw your attention to another vulnerability which lies in the perceptions of your employees about real and imaginary threats.

In the present political climate, you cannot afford to focus solely on the direct effects of terrorism or an epidemic of infectious disease you must also be concerned about how workers will respond to an event like a false report of avian flu by a blogger, which convinces workers they are under attack. 

 Reconstruction in countries affected by the Dec. 26 Indian Ocean tsunami is expected to take years as areas recover from one of the deadliest and most damaging disasters ever. As of late February, the need for relief efforts in most countries was slowing and the rebuilding phase was becoming a priority.

The tsunami, which affected 11 countries along the Indian Ocean, killed as many as 178,000 people. Combined with estimates of 26,000 to 142,000 missing in the region, more than 250,000 people may have perished in the disaster.

The tsunami recovery is expected to cost between 10 and 12 billion dollars and take three to five years, said United Nation Assistant Secretary General Hafiz Pasha on Feb. 16. She estimated the recovery process would cost up to 10 times more than the initial relief efforts.

“We are beginning to make a transition from the relief to the early recovery stage which will focus on the physical infrastructure – clearing the rubble and helping people to re-establish their livelihoods,” said Pasha in the speech, which was reported by the Associated Press. 

 A sound continuity program can differentiate a strong, reliable company from its competitors, but how many business continuity professionals have actually met the company’s potential customers?

To really show the value that BCP brings, tell the world how robust continuity planning puts your company ahead of your competitors.

As the owners and authors of the BC plans, we know them inside and out, and we are well-suited to describe the plan to prospective customers, insurance carriers, investors and auditors. We also have the most to gain when we highlight the value BC brings.

Introduction

Does your company sales force have first-hand knowledge about your business continuity plan? If not, how can they convince a prospective customer that your BCP can differentiate your company from your competitors?

Similarly, a BCP should assist in developing your insurance program, but does your risk manager have enough information to be effective when highlighting your BC program to the insurance markets?

Your customers are critically dependent on the goods and services your company provides, and they’re being asked to stake their reputations and their profits on your performance. A compelling description of how you’ve protected your operations, built resiliency into your systems, and will stay up and running even during adverse conditions, could put your company ahead of your competitors who may not have a good story to tell. 

 The remoteness and economic deficiencies of many corners of the world have historically resulted in a lack of good maps. One side effect of having poor maps is a certain slowness to respond to natural disasters: without accurate views of local vegetation, road networks and medical facilities, relief workers have difficulty locating and navigating disaster-impacted areas, or even determining the extent of damage.

When an event such as the Indian Ocean tsunami wipes out entire communities, shattering communications lines and obliterating roads, it completely cuts off access by the rest of the world – a type of destruction that no line-drawn maps could ever illustrate.

After the tsunami, high-resolution satellite imagery became a remarkable tool for helping the world understand the devastation that had occurred. At 60-centimeter resolution, these images depict enough detail to count individual trees and buildings.

Images were collected of the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka on Dec. 26, slightly less than four hours after the 6:28 a.m. earthquake and shortly after the moment of tsunami impact. Showing churning ocean waters and high water at least a kilometer inland, they offered some of the first glimpses of destruction. Two days later, images were collected of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where unthinkable damage and death tolls resulted. They showed a markedly changed shoreline, flood damage more than three kilometers inland, large piles of debris and destroyed villages.

Two medical doctors associated with the Visualization Center at San Diego State University traveled to Indonesia to work with the U.S. military, NGOs and the United Nations on relief efforts. Using before-and-after satellite imagery and 3D fly-throughs placed on a secure server and laptops equipped with Global Positioning Satellite receivers, the workers assisted the relief community in assessing damage and determining where to safely build refugee camps, medical facilities, communications networks and transportation routes.

Eric Frost, co-director of the Visualization Center, said, “The images showed that the damage was seriously much worse than anyone first thought. They motivated people to take action and send relief right away. They were also invaluable for working with city and village leaders on some ultra-fast urban planning efforts.”
The advent of high-resolution satellites now makes it possible to obtain digital views of the most remote corners of the world, offering disaster response teams a useful tool for recovery and mitigation efforts well into the future.



Chuck Herring is marketing communications director for DigitalGlobe. He may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (303) 684-4020.

 Many companies today have created an environment of hostility between disaster recovery planning (DRP) and business continuity planning (BCP). Companies are creating two independently operating groups tasked with planning for a disastrous event.

Below is the industry’s own definition of the disciplines from the DRJ glossary:

DISASTER RECOVERY PLAN (DRP): The document that defines the resources, actions, tasks, and data required to manage the business recovery process in the event of a business interruption. The plan is designed to assist in restoring the business process within the stated disaster recovery goals.

BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLANNING (BCP): Process of developing advance arrangements and procedures that enable an organization to respond to an event in such a manner that critical business functions continue with planned levels of interruption or essential change.

How did the two grow apart? The best way to understand the situation is to look at the history of the recovery process.