We talk a lot about preparing for the unexpected around here, and about making sure your business continuity plans can account for anything that might come your way as an organization. But it’s equally important, we believe, to stop and reflect on when things go wrong, or awry, or when something could have potentially been handled better. It’s why we created a resource digging into the emergency notification mishap in Hawaii, and it’s why we pay close attention to the BC world to ensure we’re able to help our clients with any scenario they may be faced with. Sometimes, you have to pivot. Sometimes, the unexpected isn’t just out of left field, it’s also unprecedented. That happened in Austin, Texas, recently, and we want to dive a little deeper into how Austin’s story might help you adjust the way you view your BC plan.
What Happened in Austin
At the end of October, central Texas faced historic flooding. The result of which was an onslaught of silt filtering into the water systems. So much, in fact, that the water treatment plants couldn’t keep up with the demand. What started as a reduced consumption notice quickly turned into a boil notice that lasted 7 days. When the boil notice was first put into effect, there was no end date in sight. The city of Austin decided to leave it open-ended because they were unsure of when the problem would be manageable again.
The Unexpected Impact
When the boil notice was first put into effect, decisions were made about how to notify citizens. Because press coverage across several mediums were heavily covering the events, and the city was utilizing online and social media platforms to spread the word, a reverse 911 system was not put into effect. Unfortunately, this meant that some citizens who were unplugged for part of that first day, and possibly longer, were unaware that the boil notice had been put into effect. The backlash came in the form of citizens claiming that the city didn’t do enough to notify everyone, and that it had put the health of its citizens at risk as a result.
How to Deal With Ongoing Incidents
When a natural disaster occurs, there is always fallout of some sort. In the case of Austin, the flooding impacted the citizens for more than a week. When you think about this in the context of a business continuity plan, the impact on organizations who didn’t have the means to provide clean water for employees could have been massive. As it was an ongoing incident, with no initial end date in mind, it was important for BC managers across organizations to implement part of their preparedness plans in order to manage the fallout from the flooding effectively. It may have included disseminating information about the status of the water at the organization to all employees, or it may have included instructing employees to work remotely until the boil notice was lifted. It could have included several other steps as well, depending on the organization and the impact of the unsafe water on their operations, but regardless, BC managers were likely involved in business operations in the wake of the flood.
Being prepared for anything and everything is truly the name of the game when it comes to business continuity and incident management,. whether it’s ensuring all parties are properly notified of important messages in a timely manner, or finding ways to keep your organization running smoothly even when a city-wide issue is impacting normal business operations. It’s just another reminder of why having an emergency notification and incident management system dialed in and created with the proper architecture is a necessity in today’s unpredictable business world.
MissionMode is the trusted leader in providing organizations with an effective and reliable emergency notification and incident management system, specifically designed to handle your organization’s needs from end to end. The MissionMode Notification Center allows our clients to send two-way multimodal notifications to employees during times of crisis. Our Situation Center acts as a virtual command center in times of emergency or during a business disruption, helping our clients to successfully manage the given emergency by enabling your team to be activated in a virtual setting, performing assigned tasks and checklists related to the given incident from onset to resolution.
From incident management to mass notification to interactive field communications, mobile control, integrated weather planning and more, MissionMode’s team of seasoned and certified emergency managers and business continuity practitioners are dedicated to being a reliable partner in your incident management and mass communication needs.