Dealing with the impact of a natural disaster
- 07 September, 2010 22:00
Even at this stage, businesses in Christchurch can take measures to help ensure their survival in the aftermath of the earthquake. “For businesses that still operate in the affected region, their short-term focus should be to make sure things don’t get worse,” says Ian Forrester, managing director of business continuity provider Plan-b. “First, they should ensure a business grade back-up of their data is taken right away and get it to a safe and secure location.”
Apart from looking after data, each business should ensure that a few key components of its business continuity plan are up to date. These include basic things such as having a current list of key business contacts and staff outside of the office. As well, Forrester says it is important to keep people staff informed of what is happening in the business.
He suggests enterprises can use the opportunity to assess the gaps in their business continuity programmes and how they should manage any future event that can impact the business. “We’re not just talking about earthquakes or natural disasters here, but also server failure or a fire that denies the business access to its usual premises.”
Businesses should also identify the things that absolutely need to be done within the first two hours of a disruptive event. These will cover who will be in charge of staff safety, what needs to be communicated and to who, and physical items like cash registers or servers that are crucial to the functioning of the business.
An important part of any business continuity plan is deciding what information people will need urgently, putting it all in one place and making sure that place is accessible, even if the building collapses. This information should include contact information for staff and next of kin, customers and suppliers.
Forrester says Plan-b also had some key takeaways from the earthquake in Christchurch. “We’ve definitely seen that those who test and prove their backup and recovery systems, for instance, find it so much easier to get the business back up and running again.”
Telecom, meanwhile, says the aftershock caused a brief interruption to its services in central parts of Christchurch this morning, but the majority of the service has been restored.
Telecom says mobile networks are dealing with a very high number of calls, and is urging customers to use mobile phones only for important calls. As an alternative, the public can use Telecom payphones in and around Christchurch for free to make local, national and mobile calls.