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Volume 30, Issue 3

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The NFPA 1600 “Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs” is designed to be a description of the basic criteria for a comprehensive program that addresses disaster recovery, emergency management, and business continuity. Clearly a benchmark and potentially a requirement, NFPA 1600 should be an important influence on your program. This article discusses the standard and the implications for emergency, continuity, and disaster recovery planners.

The committee will meet next month to discuss revisions to NFPA 1600, which is due to be published in 2004.

In case you don’t know, The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is an international nonprofit codes and standards organization. Don’t let the words “national” and “fire” in the NFPA’s name confuse you. The NFPA is truly an international body with more than 60,000 members from all over the world. Less than a quarter of these members are affiliated with fire departments. The majority of the members are representatives of the private and public sectors and come from a wide variety of fields.

NFPA standards are developed through a consensus standards development process approved by the American National Standards Institute. The NFPA develops standards that are routinely adopted by state and local lawmakers for building, life safety, and electrical standards. The NFPA’s mission is to “reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating scientifically based consensus codes and standards, research, training and education.”

 

 

Would you like to see your CEO on CNN talking about your company’s response to a major disaster? “Sure,” you answer, but would they know what to say?

According to the findings of the third annual PR Week/Burson-Marsteller CEO Survey, CEOs recognize the value of their role in a time of crisis, with 85 percent of them saying that it’s “very important” or “absolutely vital” that they serve as company spokesperson in a disaster.

Validating the importance of a CEO’s role as a company spokesperson in a time of crisis, a shocking 91 percent of CEOs surveyed said that it was “very important” or “important” to communicate with “all employees” in the aftermath of a tragedy. Some 74 percent of CEOs favored “face-to-face meetings” with employees as “absolutely vital” or “very important” to communicating after tragedy. The second most favored way to communicate with employees was via e-mail (62 percent).

Is your CEO familiar enough with your company’s business continuity program to talk about response, recovery and crisis management in terms that make sense to the public?

 

 

For the first time ever, thanks to a unique public and private partnership, businesses throughout New York State will soon be able to gain special emergency access at the time of a major disaster. Never before has a public/private joint emergency planning effort resulted in such a monumental outcome. New York City and the City of Buffalo, in conjunction with the not-for-profit Business Network of Emergency Resources (BNet), have teamed up to introduce the Corporate Emergency Access System (CEAS). The CEAS program is designed to help business owners, both large and small, mitigate the potential damage and financial losses that may result from an unforeseen emergency or catastrophe by allowing critical staff access during an emergency event.

In the past, when police were forced to close off streets, roads and public passageways as a result of an emergency event, it was a matter of “no access” or “who-you-know access” for area businesses. But now the Corporate Emergency Access System levels the playing field for businesses in Buffalo and lower Manhattan who will soon begin a pilot CEAS program in coordination with the New York City Office of Emergency Management.

When working on the functional requirements phase of your disaster recovery or business continuity plan, there are two goals to keep in mind for each business process: the recovery time objective (RTO) and the recovery point objective (RPO). RTO defines the tolerable maximum length of time that a business process can be unavailable, while RPO defines how much work in progress can be lost.

Believe it or not, these two goals are not tightly coupled, nor are they completely decoupled. The RTO and RPO should be determined independently, although it may be determined at some later point that they are interrelated due to infrastructure or technology issues.

One example often used to demonstrate an application that can never be down is a system running a stock exchange. This implies an RTO of zero or very near to zero. In addition to the minimal RTO of such an example, it is an absolute requirement that the RPO be zero. Transactions can be valued in the millions of dollars, and the last transaction against a specific security sets the price for the next transaction. Transactions must be serialized because they build upon each other. For example, I might sell one stock so that I can buy another, or I might buy a stock and sell it within minutes. After cutover to a backup system, one missing transaction can mean that every transaction following it is wrong, and the database can diverge further and further from reality.

When crisis strikes, businesses can get left out in the cold. The truth is many businesses simply cannot survive an extended outage caused by a crisis. That is why the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, located in Centennial, Colo., has created the Business Continuation and Communication Center. The center is designed to work with local authorities and operates based on the Incident Command System. More important, the center is a place where businesses can go to get critical help.

How The Center Works

The beauty of the center is the ease with which it is activated. The center is available to area businesses 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contacting the chamber at office, cellular or home telephone numbers activates the center. Once activated, the chamber meeting area is prepared to receive the affected business and center operations commence when personnel arrive. The chamber meeting area is outfitted with extra telephone jacks and network ports.

Chamber services offered to businesses through the center include:

• A site for daily briefings;
• Connection to support services and local authorities;
• Temporary use of telephones, fax machines and computers;
• Mental health counseling, including management coaching;
• Extended partnering with a member business that will “adopt” dislocated businesses.