What Critical Infrastructure Can Teach Us About Disaster Recovery

What Critical Infrastructure Can Teach Us About Disaster Recovery

energy-2904606_640Disaster recovery and business continuity can seem downright arcane to the uninitiated. How can you tell which systems are your most critical? How do you ensure everything runs smoothly both during and after an emergency?

More importantly, how do you keep your employees organized, effective, and efficient?

I’ve always maintained that the best way to learn a new concept is to study someone who does it well. And few industries handle disaster response, mitigation, and recovery better than those that are responsible for managing critical infrastructure. When something goes wrong at a power plant or oil refinery, for instance, it isn’t just data that’s on the line.

It’s lives.

By examining how they manage an emergency from beginning to end, we can form an idea of how we should handle a disaster within our own walls.

  • Disaster preparedness. A good facility manager has a comprehensive idea of every single disaster – natural or manmade – which might impact their facility. They’ve put together a plan for each one, albeit with flexibility in mind. They understand that every disaster is different and that a rigid, inflexible recovery plan is worse than no plan at all in many cases.


  • Prioritization. If a fire starts in an oil refinery, staff know immediately what their priorities are. They know what areas of the refinery are most dangerous during the fire, and they know their evacuation routes. Similarly, in a business disaster, a company that’s on top of disaster recovery and business continuity knows to prioritize their most critical apps, systems, and data first – everything else is secondary.
  • Clear responsibility. A power plant has concrete roles for when an emergency occurs. Staff always know who to contact in the event of a disaster, and there’s always a way for everyone to stay in touch with one another. More importantly, a competent manager will have systems in place to keep citizens apprised of what’s going on with their power, and when they can expect functionality to be restored. Speaking of which…
  • Communication plans. No matter what sort of crisis you experience, communication is at the core of how well you can weather it. Communication between employees coordinating their response is critical. Communication with customers and clients to let them know what’s going on with their services is equally important – perhaps more-so.


So, what can infrastructure like power & water teach us about business continuity?

  • The importance of being prepared
  • Prioritization of mission-critical systems
  • The importance of clear roles and responsibilities
  • The importance of communication

In short, pretty much everything we need to know. Using the lessons applied here, you can easily draft up your own plan – and ensure that the next time your business faces a crisis, you’re fully prepared.

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