Why every month should be Critical Infrastructure Month

The U.S. government has recently dedicated this time of year to recognize the importance of protecting resources. Here at home, the Calgary flood remains an object lesson

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Canadians might not have noticed, but the White House and the Office of the Press Secretary recently declared November as Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month.

The idea is to recognize the importance of protecting the United States’ resources. FEMA, in partnership with the DHS National Protection and Program Directorate’s Office of Infrastructure Protection, is encouraging everyone to learn more about critical infrastructure and its potential impacts throughout supply chains.

In his statement Obama raised an important point that resonated with me as a business continuity practitioner: that the United States, Canada and all sizes of business have grown increasingly dependent on critical infrastructure like telecommunications, commercial power and transportation.

This had also come up closer to home at an event in Ottawa last month, when Michael DeJong, director, of critical infrastructure policy at Public Safety Canada, brought together all ten critical infrastructure sectors. We were there to share information, consider specific risks and threats, and discuss mitigation measures to address key risks. There was a focus on the recent flooding in Alberta and impact to deliver essential services.

Related: Calgary flood 2013 brings business continuity issues to the surface

Related: Mitigation by design’: The way to fend off floods, hackers and even worse

My presentation about the impact of the flood from a telecommunications perspective, and emphasized the importance of engaging early in disaster response in order to ensure the integrity of its services and those of dependent sectors. Some of the other takeaways and experts included:

  • Greg Solecki, manager of emergency management at the City of Calgary, mentioned how social media monitoring and engagement played an important role in the city’s response to the flood.
  • Keith Carter, vice-president, Calgary and Edmonton Region Operations, ATCO Gas, pointed out how roads and bridges have consistently proven to be vulnerable areas in a flooding scenario, exposing gas lines.
  • Andre van Dijk, vice-president, system operations at EnMax Power Corp., said the flood caused physical damage to power substations, which proved challenging.

If telecom is a ‘critical infrastructure’ to your business, incidents like the Calgary Flood are worth keeping in mind as you do your own business continuity planning. Whether it happens in November or not, it’s about taking the time and investing in resources to plan the right way, and not the easy way. You can’t predict an emergency, but you can prepare for one.

Try Allstream’s free, online Business Continuity and Disaster Preparedness Assessment Tool

Image courtesy of Maggie Smith at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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