Avian Flu, Continuity, Resilience: The New York Times and Jeff Jarvis

Stephen DeAngelis

March 17, 2006

The New York Times reported yesterday on the potential impact of Avian Flu on business (“Is Business Ready for a Flu Pandemic?”, March 16, 2006).  The article quotes a Deloitte report:

“A pandemic flu outbreak in any part of the world would potentially cripple supply chains, dramatically reduce available labor pools,” the report said. “In a world where the global supply chain and real-time inventories determine most everything we do, down to the food available for purchase in our grocery stores, one begins to understand the importance of advanced planning…”

The Times continues:

Some of the most important planning involves… how to continue to deliver vital services in a crisis. Time Warner’s Cable News Network is making preparations to stay on the air from different locations.

“If there should be something that quarantines the production center here in Hong Kong, we could hand off to London and Atlanta,” Stephen Marcopoto, president of Turner International Asia Pacific, a Time Warner unit in Hong Kong, said.

Time Warner is also working to create a mechanized cart that could automatically load tape after tape into a satellite transmission system, so it could keep stations like Cartoon Network on the air — a boon if children were homebound for months.

But many corporate plans are painted in fairly broad brush strokes…

Today at Buzz Machine, Jeff Jarvis expands the discussion:

The Times asks whether corporations are ready for a pandemic. I’ve been asking myself the same question about schools, local government, telecommunications, technologists, local retail, and the rest of life.

The internet provides entirely new means of keeping life going even if we have to quarantine ourselves…

Schools should be ready to teach students remotely…

Cable companies, telephone companies, and power companies should make passing every home with bandwidth a priority, a matter of national security…

PBS, NPR, and commercial broadcasters should be prepared to air classroom instruction …

Every office needs a plan for running the business across distributed, distance networks….

Every local retailer, especially supermarkets, should have plans for online and phone ordering and for delivery to homes, without face-to-face contact. …

Similarly, if I had a restaurant and a prayer of survival, I’d pull a deliver-and-run strategy out my hat…

Count the number of scenarios here in which rules automation might spell the difference between success and failure.  Thorough planning… best practices identified and transformed into executable code… automated processes extended across networks…  An extensive series of tasks for Enterprise Resilience Management.

Clearly, there’s a great deal of work to be done to make us truly resilient.