In the beginning of the summer, we worked with several companies to test their Disaster Plans. It's important to have a plan in case of Emergency Evacuations or any other event that may interfere with business communications. So, we were ready for Hurricane Gustav.
Working with many companies in New Orleans, we handled the disruption of Hurricane Katrina as it happened. Quick notices on websites, ad-hoc communication setups, and updates. Many learned very quickly that having an emergency plan is very important to lessen any disruption to business.
During any type of event, communication is vital. During a widespread evacuation, it is even more important as everyone scatters to different areas and normal phone service might be hampered. So, having a way for businesses to communicate to employees and check on each others well-being is crucial.
Email and Forums
For those that have in-house Exchange Servers to handle their email, an external solution was needed. If those servers went down for any reason (power outage, flooding), normal email would not be an option. So, we planned ahead to have temporary mailboxes setup on our webservers. Before evac, everyone was told how they can login to the temporary webmail (available from any internet connection). This actually kept business running almost as 'normal'.
But email has a shortcoming for widespread communication. How does one get info to everyone? You are not likely to have a full email list to send to. And having a group communicate on a project can become difficult as they need to wade thru all the 'informative' emails, and of course the ever present spam. So, for optimum communication a private forum is ideal.
Another important issue is data backup. Too many companies never get around to backing up their data properly. And those that do might have those backups onsite. Having any type of backup is excellent, so those with backups should give themselves a pat on the back.
But what happens if the location is damaged? It might take your backups with it. So, a safe solution is to have automated Offsite, secure backups. We are working on online backup solutions, so hopefully if there is another hurricane or emergency, everyone can be sure their data is safe.