In a disaster power and communication infrastructure is often damaged which means there is no way to communicate. Every Chrysalis administrator receives a portable HAM radio and is a federally licensed HAM radio operator. Each house is equipped with an emergency 72 hour kit as well as additional emergency food storage that will feed both the individuals being served as well as the staff.
Every Chrysalis employee is trained in CPR and First Aid and each house contains an emergency first aid kit to treat minor wounds caused by the disaster. Following Hurricane Katrina and the California wild fires the National Council on Disability issued a report stating that most government plans fail to consider the most vulnerable Americans in their emergency plans.
Emergency planners and government officials are generally unfamiliar and unaware of the unique needs of individuals with developmental disabilities.
At Chrysalis we feel that the responsibility of preparedness starts with the person and with Chrysalis. Business continuity is back on the agenda, as companies recover from a year of snow, ash clouds, and snow again. Severe weather, flu pandemics, power failures and transport chaos: events that disrupt a business come in many guises. However, despite the clear dangers, only around half of all businesses are said to have a business continuity plan, and even fewer have one that can really be considered effective. Stuart Hotchkiss, author of the recent BCS book Business Continuity Management: In Practice, believes the problem goes deeper. This lack of preparation comes despite evidence that disruption can be fatal to a business. As Forrester Research points out, one reason for low levels of preparedness is that it can take a headline-grabbing disaster to force boards to pay attention to business continuity.


For IT departments, though, it is vital to recognise that a good business continuity plan has both IT and non-IT elements. To do this, IT departments can turn to technologies such as remote and mobile working and, increasingly to cloud-based services, from simple online backups or Google Apps to more complex systems employing cloud infrastructure to store data remotely and run backup copies of applications.
Good communications management is also essential: companies need to ensure that they can circulate alternative email addresses and contact numbers of key personnel, and that staff working on a Plan B can connect to backup services, for example if the main VPN or datacentre is down.
The fact that good continuity measures go beyond IT recovery plans emphasises the need for IT to be part of a multi-disciplinary team.
Then, the project planning team needs to look at the organisation's business processes, to see which need protecting or replicating. Forrester calculates that business continuity and disaster recovery should account for six to seven per cent of IT budgets.
Stuart Hotchkiss' Business Continuity Management: In Practice is available from the IT PRO bookstore. History has shown that we can't expect emergency services to support our individuals in the beginning.
But creating a good continuity plan neither just about planning for disasters, nor a task for IT alone, says Stephen Pritchard. Bharat Thakrar, the global head of BT Global Services’ business continuity portfolio, puts the percentage of companies with that have a BC plan at 48 per cent, with the figure for SMEs “even lower”. According to research carried out by RISE, a cloud-based provider of data centres, which recently launched a business continuity service, 20 per cent of companies will suffer an outage. But there are other ways to focus directors' minds on the issue, including the risk of falling behind competitors – who will be more attractive to customers and more profitable if they suffer fewer failures – and the pressure of industry regulation. For Magnus Leask, IT director of Fast Track, a sports marketing company that runs events such as the Aviva UKA (Athletics) Grand Prix, the cost of continuity planning is low, when set against the cost of lost business.


Conventional, IT focused disaster recovery keeps systems running, but does little, for example, to help employees caught out by the weather. Few organisations will be able to protect all their processes, systems or applications to the same degree. Businesses need to test both the practicalities of their BC arrangements – can staff reach a recovery centre, do emergency communications work – as well as the technical recovery of IT systems and data. But for IT directors who have had to deal with an outage, it is testing that can make the difference between survival, and failure.
Of the remainder, half have out-of -date plans, which would never work in practice, and I would guess that only 10 per cent of companies do any kind of yearly testing,” he says.
Of those that do not have a recovery plan 43 per cent will never re-open, 80 per cent will fail within 13 months and 53 per cent fail to recoup losses incurred as a result of the incident. But an IT system that is prone to failure poses its own challenge to the business' operations.
An orderly system for recovering data and bringing applications and processes back on line should also be part of the plan, so that all employees know what is offline, and how quickly it is likely to be recovered. Only testing shows that the chain in command does work, and reveals where bottlenecks or vulnerabilities sit within systems themselves.



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