Disaster proofing your business – can the web help?

Having now managed to fully catch up on the news I was heartened to see the response that the world made to the Haiti crisis and in particular the way that the UK travel industry rallied together to get aid into Port Au Prince. It is a sobering moment to reflect on how our lives would change and how we would survive if our homes and everything we owned were suddenly taken away from us by such a brutal force of nature.

The Haiti crisis may also make us stop and think if there is some way we can disaster proof our own businesses so that they are less vulnerable to attacks whether they be natural or cyber ones! You wonder how Enterprise Britain would manage if such an event had struck our shores and whether we would have been able to quickly resurrect our businesses. Especially when you consider that both telephone and internet access is in short supply in Haiti and a major drawback to the relief efforts. Assessing potential risks are one of those vital parts of your initial business plan but then it get’s harder to revisit them when the day to day challenges of actually running the business kick in.

I came across some interesting statistics recently when browsing through Wikipedia on disaster planning. It is estimated that most large companies spend between 2% and 4% of their IT budget on disaster recovery planning. Of companies that had a major loss of business data, 43% never reopen, 51% close within two years, and only 6% will survive long-term (for full article link here).

I googled “disaster planning” and came across a website called http://www.ready.gov/. It turns out that this site is run by the US government and has lots of practical advice on what to do if you suffer an emergency including advice on what to include in a basic emergency supply kit.

I reflected on the recent chaos that descended on the UK when we had some unusually heavy snow and the frustration of parents trying to find out whether their children’s schools were going to be open. Maybe our local councils could take some lessons from the disaster preparations other countries are making to use the internet to coordinate key information to minimise the disruption they have on Enterprise Britain. I recently heard that Tim Berners Lee (the inventor of the web) has persuaded the UK government to publish more government information on a site called www.data.gov.uk. The site is even inviting ideas for applications for online usage of government data at http://www.data.gov.uk/node/add/ideas so I’ve asked if we can view maps in the future showing which roads have been gritted so the site may yet minimise the impact of another potential “Snow Armageddon”!

Do share with us any ideas you may have on disaster proofing your business.

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