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Welcome to the BCPA blog! We encourage you to read the posts below and comment to engage others in conversation. If you have an idea for an upcoming blog post, please email info@bcpa.org with the subject line "BCPA blog".
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  • Friday, April 11, 2014 8:29 AM | Deleted user
    At our March meeting, Damian Walch, Director with Deloitte’s Cyber Risk Services organization, spoke to us about disruptive changes in mobile computing, analytics, learning systems and why the business continuity industry is using outdated methods. It was a great meeting and Damian presented some eye-opening information.

    The business continuity and disaster recovery discipline has not changed, but technology we use to carry it out has. Some of those technological innovations have been disruptive.

    Walch defined disruptive innovations as those that help to create a new market and value network that eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market by improving a service in ways that the market did not expect. Disruptive innovations that the industry is currently adapting to include:

    Gamification - Using games or point systems as a way to meet business objectives and encourage behavior that drives resilience. Table-top exercises or cyberwar games can be used to challenge organizations to adjust business strategies and tactics.

    Mobile enterprise - This trend toward a shift in work habits has more people working outside of the office using mobile devices. This trend means a melding of personal and professional information, means accessing information anywhere at any time and increases collaboration with third parties.

    Analytics - Analytics allow the discovery of meaningful patterns in data. It allows us to create predictive models that help bring certainty to risk analysis and helps us establish meaningful trends. It allows us to investigate the ability of a system to continue functioning in the case of disruption.

    Cloud architecture - Allowing a number of computers to be connected in real-time communication networks.

    Geospacial visualization - This set of tools and techniques supports geospatial analysis and interactive visualization. It allows organizations to see how outages impact specific locations and identifies effects of a large-scale outage.

    Social reengineering - This electronic communication allows users to interact in real-time sharing photos, messages, geotagging and more. Social networks allow for faster communication and sharing of images enhances informed decision making.

    All of these disruptive innovations can be used to make your organization more responsive and resilient. For more information and ideas on how you can do that, check out the slides from Damian Walch’s presentation https://businesscontinuityplannersassociation.wildapricot.org/Resources/Documents/2014%20Mtg%20Presentations/Resilience%20Trends%20Beyond%20the%20Buzzwords.pdf

    Our next meeting is coming up on May 8th. We hope to see you there!
  • Thursday, April 03, 2014 9:08 AM | Deleted user
    “The convergence of social networks and mobile has thrown the old response playbook out the window.” -Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of the Internet Association

    When an emergency strikes, clear and effective communication is key to saving lives and reducing confusion that can cause even more damage. The more channels the better. The rise in popularity of social media is changing the way we all communicate, and that includes emergency communication.

    Social media provides both a way for an affected community to get information about what’s happening, but also a way for security professionals to keep up with real-time street level activity. During Hurricane Sandy, photos and information flowed in from affected citizens and helped authorities understand the severity of the situation.  

    The Boston Marathon bombing is another example of how social media is changing emergency communication. Immediately following the bombing, 26% of Americans looked to social media for news and updates http://www.people-press.org/files/2013/04/4-23-13-3.png regarding the incident. When the Boston City Police captured the suspect, their “CAPTURED!” tweet was quickly shared over 100,000 times https://twitter.com/bostonpolice/status/325413032110989313 letting the locked-down community know they were safe almost instantaneously.


    Social media moves very quickly, making it a great way to share updates that require fast response. Users look to social media for real-time updates, and they can receive social media updates from mobile devices.  

    Unfortunately, because information moves so quickly, misinformation also spreads fast on social media. False information can put people in danger, and when using social media for emergency communication, it’s important to educate a community on how it will be used and how to verify information.


    Even when cell service is down, if a community has access to the internet, they are looking for and sharing information on social media.

    Keeping lines of communication open

    This past January, a snowfall paralyzed the entire city of Atlanta, https://idisaster.wordpress.com/category/social-media-and-emergency-management/ prompted a shelter in place order and left children stranded in schools. What could have been a nightmare communication scenario was handled expertly by the Atlanta Public School’s communication team using social media. They used Twitter to address parental concerns directly, dispel rumors and to keep updates going out around the clock. Twitter was only one of many social media platforms used to keep the community informed of what was happening. During the emergency, social media was also integrated into the school websites and blogs.

    The addition of social media to the emergency communication toolbox will not mean the end of the Emergency Broadcast System or other communication efforts, it will simply add another layer of communication, an incredibly valuable one.

    Is your organization using social media as part of your emergency communication plan, and if so, how?
  • Thursday, March 27, 2014 1:13 PM | Deleted user
    Continuity central is running their annual business continuity trends survey. Although they are still collecting results, the preliminary results are interesting and suggest a number of changes coming to business continuity.

    Emerging trends

    According to early survey response, business continuity professionals expect to see the following trends in 2014:

    • Changes in incident/crisis management processes
    • Greater BC integration with the wider business
    • ISO 22301 implementation projects will drive changes


    Budgets for business continuity aren’t shrinking. Early results suggested that while about 50% of budgets were remaining the same for 2014 as they were in 2013, the rest of respondents predicted increased budgets from, some even reporting budgets would increase significantly.


    Most respondents, 77%, expect that their business continuity teams will remain the same size in 2014 as they were last year. Nearly one fifth of early respondents expected their team to grow while only 2.5% reported expected shrinkage.

    These are preliminary results; it’s not too late to participate in the survey and share your insights.

    How do these early results compare with what’s happening in your organization? 

  • Tuesday, March 18, 2014 8:37 AM | Deleted user
    Spring is coming (even if it might still look like winter on the ground!) and will be a very welcome change in Minnesota. But while we’re waiting for the daffodils to pop up, we need to be planning for the flood. This year, flooding is likely throughout the Red River Valley and along the Mississippi River

    Due to a number of weather conditions, including the colder than usual temperatures, improved drought conditions and heavy snowfalls, the likelihood for flooding is greater this spring than it has been in the past two years. It’s time to prepare for the flood.

    Know your risk

    Even if your business is not located in a floodplain, you may be at risk for flooding, even if you’ve never flooded before. Twenty-five percent of all flood damages happen in low-risk areas outside of floodplains. FloodSmart.gov can help you determine your risk for flooding.

    Be aware that floodplains change with land use. The addition of a nearby landfill or a change in storm-water drainage patterns can change the floodplains. It’s a good idea to follow up to make sure you know if your business is still located within a floodplain or not.

    Flood factors to consider
    • Duration of the flood: Will waters recede quickly, or if they will be trapped and increase exposure of your building to flood waters. The longer that flood waters remain, the greater the chance water will breach your facility.
    • Speed of flood waters: The fast flood waters are moving, the more pressure they will exert on your facility. When flooding comes from rivers, waters tend to move very quickly.
    • Depth of flood waters: Flood waters greater than three feet in depth can cause cracks in masonry and increase risk of building collapse.
    • Water conditions: Flood waters contaminated with chemicals or debris increase risk of damage to property.

    Flood proofing

    Flood proofing means sealing up a building with a membrane that prevents water from entering and might include anchoring it to prevent flotation. This isn’t necessarily right for everyone, but may be a good idea for businesses that are in floodplains or have generally low elevation.

    Flood Insurance

    Whether you are flood proof or not, flood insurance can protect your business financially in the event of a flood. Check to see if your property or business owners insurance policy covers floods or if you need a supplemental policy, oftentimes you will.  Plan ahead, there may be a waiting period on when your flood insurance policy will take effect.

    Flooding can have a particularly damaging effect on small businesses that are not prepared physically or financially to deal with floods. Don’t let spring flooding destroy your business and your summer; start assessing your risk and preparing now.
  • Thursday, March 13, 2014 12:52 PM | Deleted user
    Good communication is vital to saving lives and preventing even more damage during an emergency. Last month, during our BCPA member meeting, Lillian McDonald and Lauren Rimestad from ECHO Minnesota spoke to us about their work to improve emergency communication within diverse communities around Minnesota.

    ECHO Minnesota was founded in 2004 as a project in the aftermath of 9/11. The organization's mission is to collaborate with diverse communities to provide programs that help people be healthy, contribute and succeed. Engaging new Americans in emergency response and creating effective warning and alert systems for their communities is part of fulfilling ECHO Minnesota's mission.

    To reach diverse communities, ECHO Minnesota works with leaders to identify which channels will work best for disseminating messages, which can include:

    • Mainstream and ethnic media
    • Public service announcements
    • Television
    • Phone information lines
    • Websites or online communication
    • Partner systems
    • Radio
    • DVDs
    ECHO Minnesota works with bilingual community ambassadors, 200 partner organizations, subject matter experts, community leaders and trained spokespersons to help spread their messages in 12 different languages.

    Communicating with diverse communities can be a challenge. The way we consume messages is cultural and reaching those of other cultures effectively takes understanding and could even mean sharing information in new or unexpected ways.

    As our population continues to change and become more diverse, reaching everyone with emergency communication becomes more complicated. Organizations like ECHO Minnesota are a vital resource for keeping our communities safe and informed.

    If you're struggling to reach diverse communities, ECHO Minnesota may be able to help your organization.
  • Thursday, March 06, 2014 11:22 AM | Deleted user
    If you’re running a small business, no doubt there are any number of issues demanding your attention on a given day. The disaster that might happen in the future might not be at the top of your priority list. However, research done by Hartford Insurance Company shows that 40% of businesses that don’t have a disaster recovery plan go out of business after a disaster. Assessing your vulnerabilities is the first step in creating an effective disaster recovery plan.

    When considering threats, there are three main categories that should be on your radar.

    Natural disasters

    You may not have much control over when or where a natural disaster will strike, but recognizing the risk and having a plan to deal with that flood, tornado, hail, lightning, etc. could save your business. Consider the impact of these threats on the structure of your building and the availability of your workforce.

    To start, make sure your building is up to code. Make sure you have what you’ll need on-hand if a natural disaster occurs: if you’re concerned about floods, stock sandbags. Assess which parts of your building are critical and which are at the biggest risk. Focus attention on those areas first.

    Human threats

    Unfortunately, people can get more creative than the weather. Human threats may be less predictable than natural disasters, but ask yourself if your business is prepared to continue operating if the following should happen:

    • Riots
    • Sabotage
    • Embezzlement
    • Extortion
    • Loss of key employees
    • War
    • Acts of terror

    IT issues

    Protecting your business from human threats needs to include an element of information technology as well. Data breaches are becoming almost common with big companies making the news every day for losing customer data. Assess your IT security; make sure your software is up to date, patched and free of holes. Your disaster recovery plan needs to include information security.

    Don’t let a disaster be your retirement plan; create a disaster recovery plan instead. Protect your business. Assess your vulnerabilities and prepare to respond quickly and effectively should a disaster strike.
  • Wednesday, February 26, 2014 11:39 AM | Deleted user
    In the event of an emergency, the most important thing is to save lives. When an emergency strikes, employees won’t likely be calm. An effective evacuation plan clearly defines what actions they should take when panicked and will save lives.

    Every evacuation plan will be different and may need room for flexibility depending on the type of disaster that occurs, but here are some elements of all effective evacuation plans.

    When to evacuate

    Evacuations themselves can be dangerous. Establish under what circumstances an evacuation is necessary and include those criteria in your plan. Make sure you have a clear chain of command: know who can initiate an evacuation.

    Alert employees

    To start, your evacuation plan needs to include a way to alert employees that they need to evacuate. The sooner you can start evacuation, the better, so communication is key.

    Put a process in place for employees to alert the right people in the event they notice the need for an evacuation and get the process started. Alarms alerting employees to evacuate should be distinctive. Make sure alarms reach all areas of your business wherever employees may be working.

    Consider how you will keep employees updated about the emergency and informed about when it is safe to return to the area after the evacuation.

    Post routes

    No matter how prepared, panicked employees can make evacuation confusing. All routes should be posted and visible on walls and by exits. Post all routes and exits where they’ll be easily visible to employees during an evacuation. Include simple and direct instructions with evacuation route postings.

    Go bags

    When it’s time for evacuation, employees will need to move quickly. Having important items prepared in a go-bag that can be easily grabbed before making a quick exit will save employee hesitation and allow them to act more quickly.

    Identify which employees have items or information necessary to keep the business running after the emergency, and make it clear how and what they should include in a prepared go-bag.

    Know where you’re going

    Getting out safely is important for saving lives. Accounting for everyone after the evacuation is also important for reducing confusion and making sure unnecessary rescue efforts aren’t made. A good evacuation plan needs to include a meeting destination or check-in point. Depending on the emergency, which way the wind is blowing, which way the storm is moving one spot may not work, so it’s good to pick two or three places in opposite directions from each other.


    In some evacuation cases, to protect your building, it may be necessary to shut off gas, electricity, water etc. Know who will be responsible for dealing with these issues and how you will communicate the need.

    Annual training on emergency evacuation procedures will help employees act with speed and confidence when the time comes. Having an evacuation plan is a first step, practicing it and working out any kinks is another very important step that will help save lives.

    We hope you’ll never need to use your evacuation plan. But hoping for the best is not going to save lives in the case of an emergency. Prepare for the worst and, if necessary, your evacuation will go as smoothly as possible.
  • Thursday, February 20, 2014 9:36 AM | Deleted user
    Your business runs so well because you have all the right people in place effectively doing their jobs. To successfully function during and after a crisis requires buy-in for your business continuity plan from everyone who performs an essential role. Unfortunately, many plans lack the necessary pieces needed to get the whole team on board.

    We've got a few tips for getting everyone involved and interested in business continuity.

    Include business continuity in job descriptions

    Business continuity measures should not fall under the "other duties as assigned" category. Although it might not be something that employees regularly participate in, making the expectations clear directly in a job description will get them actively thinking about their role in the event of an emergency. If the duties are lumped into that "other" category, employees are less likely to prioritize the tasks related to business continuity.

    Every manager, critical employee and subject matter expert that you'll need to participate in your business continuity plan should have their duties spelled out in their job descriptions. How they perform those duties should be part of their review and count toward promotions and recognitions.

    Get management involved in business continuity

    To really motivate employees to get involved with business continuity, it's going to take more than just a vague statement of value from managers. Managers need to be prepared to give specific direction about assignments related to business continuity, complete with deadlines and consequences for noncompliance.

    If business continuity isn't an actionable priority for management, then employees aren't going to prioritize it or work on it either. The more managers care, the more the rest of the organization cars. But caring needs to be demonstrated in clear direction and action.

    Ask for help with business continuity

    One of the best ways to get buy-in is to involve employees in the business continuity plan from the start. The people handling day-to-day operations are probably your best source of information for how to keep things going in a crisis, and involving them will make them more engaged with the process.

    Getting everyone who needs to be involved in your business continuity plan to care about it enough to ensure its effectiveness is a huge challenge. Without organization-wide buy-in, your plan stands a lesser change of being effective. Making expectations clear, offering actionable tasks and involving everyone in the process of creating a plan will help you overcome this challenge.
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