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The Feeling Is Mutual

The Feeling Is Mutual

The ability to use another jurisdiction’s facilities for testing and restoration of critical, time-sensitive applications can reduce the cost of disaster recovery contracts, limiting the scope of recovery contracts to only the most severe events.

New government disaster backup and recovery paradigms must see past jurisdictional boundaries.

As the severe budget shortfalls faced by most government jurisdictions become reality, CIOs must look beyond jurisdictional boundaries, leveraging new opportunities for sharing and reducing infrastructure cost. Existing disaster backup and recovery contracts for business continuity provide an opportunity for creating mutual aid for the more frequent and predictable disaster events, such as hardware or communication failure and partial loss of a facility due to flood or fire.

The ability to use another jurisdiction's facilities for testing and restoration of critical, time-sensitive applications can reduce the cost of disaster recovery contracts, limiting the scope of recovery contracts to only the most severe events.

To accomplish this cross-jurisdictional continuity response, CIOs should start by employing the disciplines learned from Y2K contingency planning and crisis management as the foundation for restoration procedures within the jurisdiction. These plans must first be updated, as the starting point for negotiation and development of cross-jurisdictional mutual aid pacts.

Initially, these mutual aid pacts focus on the most frequent and predictable disaster events, such as hardware or communications failure due to partial loss of a facility. Such efforts must become part of a long-term strategy, accelerating the continuity planning discipline (for example, contingency planning, crisis management) beyond the traditional boundaries of a single jurisdiction. Ultimately, the mutual aid pacts can then be extended across government processes (or delivery "silos") maximising collaborative response capabilities.

Governance boards established to improve mutual aid between jurisdictions must focus on the following components:

  • updates of failure profiles (including hardware, software redundancy of computing and network facilities)
  • delivery of quantified and time-sensitive response capabilities given extended (24 x 365) applications, given the requirements for public health and safety
  • well orchestrated human capital management planning, enabling response on a widespread geographic basis
  • development of interdependencies across government jurisdictions, mapping likely disaster scenarios to cross-jurisdictional response
  • development of enhanced supply chain capabilities delivering specific products and services within a specific period of time meeting response requirements
  • inclusion of technologies frequently not exploited as part of mutual aid (that is, satellite imagery for rescue and recovery, GIS plotting and sharing of disaster and recovery centres for police, fire, energy, transportation and other identified critical infrastructure components) and
  • development of joint physical and digital security plans ensuring appropriate access to data and facilities as required to execute the mutual aid pact

By completing the above actions, CIOs can enhance both recovery and service continuity. Enabling a single view of government program recovery from likely disasters gives agencies the opportunity to maximise the cost of third-party disaster recovery service contracts, while accelerating response capabilities.

- Carol Kelly is vice president of government strategies for IT advisory firm META Group

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