Everyday Computing, Features, Technology

Preparing For Disaster

By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant
By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant

THANKFULLY, we were spared the ravages of Tropical Storm Erika last week, whose rains flooded our sister island of Dominica, leaving behind a trail of casualties and damaged property. Chilling scenes were spread via social media and traditional news outlets, featuring the raging floodwaters which caused the damage.

In December 2013, we were flooded by the Christmas Eve trough which caused significant damage to our own island. The awesome power of nature is especially frightening when measured in terms of the destruction caused. The Dominican Prime Minister reported that his country’s progress was set back some 20 years, based on the damaged infrastructure.

From an ICT perspective, there are several steps that may be taken to reduce the impact of such events. These include:
(1) Regularly back up your data
When floodwaters overwhelm rivers, burst their banks, and re-claim the surrounding flood plain, the raging torrent may also be carrying silt, rocks, and other debris. If your homes and businesses are flooded, your computers and other ICT equipment may be destroyed by the water and the debris. A backup allows you to survive the damage to your computer system.

(2) Store back ups at an off-site location
The sizeable debris carried by rampaging flood waters increases the destructive impact. If a building is battered by such debris, then doors and walls could be destroyed. If walls are compromised, the contents of the rooms may be carried away among the debris.

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Your computer equipment may not only be damaged, but washed away, and lost. If your backup was stored in a desk drawer, it would also be lost. If the room or the building was destroyed, then a backup stored within would be lost. If, on the other hand, your backup was stored some distance away, beyond the path of the flood, then it would be unaffected. Off-site backups protect you from damage both to your computer, and to the destruction of its location.

(3) Conduct a risk assessment exercise

Do not wait for an impending disaster before you perform a risk analysis and assessment exercise. A suitable risk assessment will feature both high-probability low-impact events, and low-probability high-impact events. Ensure that suitable attention is given to all follow-up actions arising from this exercise.

(4) Spread your risk
Beyond the usual insurance, consider what could be done to reduce your risk. For example, by storing multiple copies of your backups at various off-site locations, you may improve your resilience. By moving computer equipment above ground level, you may reduce the damage caused by flooding.

These are a few steps to be taken as part of your business continuity planning, and disaster preparedness. Further steps will depend on your needs, your location, and your environment.


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