I’ve been in Australia for the last few days running workshops on how Queensland responded to the January/2011 floods. There were actually three flooding events: flash flooding in the western area (Toowoomba and Grantham), and then a few days later, flooding in the northern area and central district of Brisbane occurred. Many people lost their homes and personal possessions. Some organizations had buildings condemned and won’t ever be able to return to them.
The feedback from the organizations I met with pointed to a few classic problems in crisis and emergency management:
1) the lack of an authoritative source for accurate and timely information;
2) the lack of coordination regarding evacuations; and
3) the lack of coordination regarding power shutdowns.
These problems caused 1) government web site overload from people seeking accurate information which then led to falsehoods being spread via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, 2) gridlock out of Brisbane on January 11, 2011 after evacuation notices were sent to central district tenants, 3) organizations not being able to gracefully shutdown their data centers due to short notice of power shutdowns, and 4) confusion and frustration between the workforce and management – not every organization immediately issued an evacuation notice to their workforce. Compounding the tension were workforce communications problems due to the lack of Internet, cell phone and land line access as well as the lack of personnel on site on January 11, 2011 due to the northern area flooding where many people live – as one would expect, they stayed home to tend to their personal crises instead of coming to work.
On the positive side, the Queensland Police Service has been glowingly praised for countering the falsehoods being spread, including one that the Wivenhoe Dam would break and annihilate all of Brisbane.
All of the organizations I spoke with stood up their crisis command/emergency operations centers – many lost IT services for a few days, many were out of their production facilities for a few weeks and as mentioned previously, some lost their buildings for good. But all managed their way to recovery success and have returned to business as usual.
I will be publishing a more detailed report on these findings in the coming months, so watch for it on www.gartner.com.
Category: Advisory Tags: Availability Risk, BCM, Business Continuity Management, Business Continuity Planning, Business Resiliency, Contingency Planning, Continuity of Operations, COOP, Crisis Management, Disaster Recovery, Emergency Notification, Emergency Preparedness, Incident Management, IT Disaster Recovery, Mass Notification, Operational Risk Management, Recovery Planning, Workforce Continuity