This morning’s strength 7.1 earthquake in central Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand, is a reminder that contingency and continuity plans are not just tedious red tape. With the IsecT office being hundreds of miles away in North Island NZ, we didn’t feel the earth move as such but we certainly felt the shock on seeing the news. It leaves us wondering about our own readiness to survive a similar disaster, not least because of our proximity to Napier, another NZ city devastated by a similar quake in the 1930s. Today it's a fabulous Art Deco city having been almost entirely rebuilt. In the 1930s, it was a scene of death and destruction.
From a security perspective, the Christchurch quake is an awareness opportunity. Carpe diem (seize the day)! It's all over the news. Employees can see for themselves what a real incident looks like and, with a bit of judicious prompting, imagine themselves in just such a disastrous situation, struggling first to survive and then to recover. This is not merely 'ambulance chasing' but a genuine chance to help colleagues consider and probably improve the contingency and disaster recovery plans, including their own personal plans e.g. who would you contact first, and how? Given that you could be anywhere when it happened, where would you go? What things would most help your survival and recovery, and do you actually have them to hand right now?
We encourage NoticeBored customers to dust-off the contingency planning awareness module released in February 2008. There are briefings, presentations and posters in there you can use immediately. We will be updating and re-issuing the module shortly.
Those of you elsewhere on the Pacific rim are probably already thinking about your own earthquake, tsunami and volcano survival plans, but in fact the principle is universal. We encourage you all to get your colleagues talking about the incident and imagining something equally dramatic happening to them - a major fire, flood, bomb, storm, IT meltdown or some other serious crisis. What would be your first priority - communicating with friends and family, probably, but how will you actually do that if the landlines and cellphones are out? If infrastructure services are badly disrupted, what would you actually do? How would you cope?
Remember, now is the time to prepare for disaster: when the walls are falling, the tide is rising and the flames flickering, it’s too late to pop down the road for bandages, food and water ...
We are re-checking the office "eathquake kit" and disaster plans today and thinking more seriously about additional backup datacommunications facility such as 3G USB modems. We already have emergency two-way radio capabilities, backup mains power, emergency water and food supplies, even spare IT facilities, but perhaps a tent would be worthwhile too if the buildings are damaged or unsafe. Living rough under a tarpaulin for more than just a night or two would be hard going, especially in a miserable wet cold winter like this one. I don't want to look back and think "If only I had arranged a decent shelter"!
What if anything are you doing about contingency and disaster planning in the wake of the Christchurch quake? We'd love to hear back from you.