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Winter Journal

Volume 30, Issue 4

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Benchmarking definitions can vary depending on who uses the terms and for what purposes. After conducting over 6,000 information technology (IT) benchmarking studies, Gartner has developed consensus definitions and models that enable 'apples to apples' comparisons of many different facilities. For the purposes of these evaluations, the operative definition of benchmarking is 'a comparative measurement'-therefore, the true value of the resulting benchmark metrics is not inherent. It is the comparative evaluation of those metrics that provides the understanding of the relative differences and similarities between the environments being benchmarked.

ased on the Gartner experience with benchmarking and IT organizations and Comdisco's experience in providing world class business continuity solutions, the Business Continuity Benchmarking (BCB) Program was developed in order to help measure an organization's business continuity process (BCP). The goals of the benchmarking assessment are to determine:

- How much am I spending on business continuity?
- How much is everybody else spending on business continuity?
- How effective is my business continuity program?
- How does my business continuity program compare with my peers'?

By their very nature, responses to emergency incidents, such as chemical spills, fire or other sudden environmental impairments, are performed under less than optimal conditions. As a result of this less than favorable operating environment, the success of such an emergency operation relies on rapid, accurate assessment of the situation, devising an appropriate plan and the successful implementation of that plan. Although many very specific Standard Operating

Procedures (SOP's) have been developed by very knowledgeable groups, the following presentation outlines a simple, yet very flexible management system that is applicable to many, if not all types of situations. The Emergency Systems Operational Control Instructions (ESOCI) Principle' provides a framework from which an incident manager can rapidly, yet simply, gain control of an incident and to assist in providing consistent management of the costs, liabilities, and other associated risks.

In many cases, the first responder will not be a trained environmental, health and safety (EHS) representative of the Responsible Party, (RP), especially to a transportation-type incident. As the RP's representative, it is paramount that a system be in place to get you, the Incident Manager (IM), involved as quickly as possible. For most hazardous material incidents, responders from the public sector (state agencies, fire departments, etc.) or their designated contractors will be the first to arrive on scene. Although most are very qualified in dealing with many of these types of emergencies, the objectives and priorities that these groups must meet may not necessarily be the same or even consistent with your priorities, with the obvious exception of human health and safety. For whatever reason, there are times where the entire response is completely directed by someone not acting on behalf of the RP. Most of the time it is due to the RP's reluctance to get involved, or that the RP thinks that a public agency is responsible for the clean up. The public agencies are tasked with protecting public health and safety, and to this end, if the RP does not effectively respond, the agency has the authority to finish the clean up'.at the RP's expense. However, even under more cooperative circumstances, a first responder may unknowingly exacerbate the problem by performing tasks, which although they are designed to protect public health and safety, may not be necessarily the most effective, in the long run. Examples of such are: washing away the spill, creating large isolation zones, or initiating an evacuation. Even the simple act of doing nothing, which on the surface appears to be a safe decision, can have dire consequences.

2. DISASTER RECOVERY  SOLUTIONS CONTRASTED USING COMDISCO CUSTOMER DATA

Fig. 3 shows recovery time lines for a number of recovery techniques decomposed into stages of recovery. This chart is based upon actual customer data accumulated by Comdisco Recovery Services.

 


 
The horizontal axis shows the time of failure as '0' hours, with Hours of Lost Transactions (Recovery Point Objective) to the left (negative) and Hours Required to Resume Business (Recovery Time Objective) in the positive range. Recall that RPO and RTO are planning objectives, and are noted in Figure 3 to show their corresponding term - and measured experience - for each recovery technique.

 

Emergency situations take many different forms. A house fire may affect a family; an automobile accident may affect several families; an earthquake may affect an entire country; and a hurricane may affect an entire coastline over a period of days. Many emergencies have common threads, which, if isolated, may serve as a basis for comparison and standard setting in planning activities. In emergency response operations, a decision must often be made to issue an order for a population to either evacuate or to shelter in place. This decision may have large-scale consequences that deserve thorough examination.

All emergency managers may someday face the decision to call for an evacuation or a shelter in place action. In the heat of an emergency there is often little time to consider the consequences of this crucial decision. Due to the need for quick decisions in emergency situations, researchers are spending considerable time and effort studying evacuation decisions.

This paper will briefly illustrate similarities and differences that can be used as decision making tools in four selected types of emergencies. This article compares (a) hurricanes; (b) floods; (c) chemical releases; and (d) radiation releases.

The volcanoes on the islands of Japan bring a mixed blessing to the people who live there. On one hand, the volcanoes are responsible for forming natural mineral hot springs, used for Onsen bathing, an economic mainstay for the island's people. On the other hand, these same volcanoes also threaten the people's economic well-being by depriving them of access to their homes and businesses. Just such a situation occurred recently when Mt. Usu, a volcano on the northernmost island of Japan, erupted.
Mt. Usu became highly active at about 1:10 p.m. on March 31, 2000. Thankfully, no lives were lost to this recent eruption due to accurate forewarnings by volcano experts which allowed authorities to take prompt preventative action and begin smooth evacuation of the surrounding population as early as two days prior to the eruption.

t its peak, more than 16,600 residents were evacuated. As the volcanic eruptions have slowly settled down, the evacuation orders for various districts have been gradually lifted and residents have been allowed back into their homes and businesses. Nearly 1,700 households, or more than 3,000 individuals from the Abuta township's Toyako Onsen district, remained in evacuation centers more than two months after the eruption.

he Onsen spas are an enormous industry, and Mt. Usu can be safely characterized as the economic lifeblood of the local region. More than 50,000 people live in three townships at the volcano's base, and the vast majority of them earn their living either directly or indirectly from the hot springs. Tourism is by far the largest industry with approximately four million visitors per year. So in addition to the simple risk to immediate life and property, this latest eruption of Mt. Usu has major long-term economic significance to the people and businesses of the area.

Already, overall travel to the island of Hokkaido is down by 10% and tourist travel in the southwestern area of the island is even more highly affected. Lake Toya and the Toyako Onsen were a kind of 'station' or typical stop along a famous tourist course and the eruption has disrupted the flow of tourist traffic throughout the area. When the last series of eruptions from Mt. Usu began in 1977, tourist traffic fell 60%. By one estimate, the drop in tourism this year will result in a $450 million reduction in revenue for the lakeshore region.