Election Blues for Business Continuity


 The Continuity Forum asks "Will the election impact on Business Continuity?"


As we enter the final few days of the various political parties campaigning we asked the question are there any implications to the business continuity profession. Over the past 13 years we have seen our profession transform from a relatively small niche specialisation to a far more widely understood professional discipline. Much of this has been achieved with the support of central government, through the Cabinet office and its civil contingencies Secretariat a huge amounts of development and promotion has been undertaken. This has transformed the landscape for those businesses working within the field and certainly helped those working to promote business continuity significantly.

CMI report charts an interesting year for the BCM profession

Disruption and resilience, 2010 from the CMI


Over the course of the past 10 years the annual Business Continuity study by the Chartered Management institute has plotted the progress and expansion of the profession. 2010 is no exception.  Over the past 12 months the country has faced widespread disruption through extreme weather events, recession and the potential posed by the swine flu pandemic ... it has been a year to challenge most working in the field.


Flight Chaos poses serious Business Continuity challenges


The Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajoekull erupted on the 14th April hurling a plume of ash high into the atmosphere and grounding flights affecting nearly seven million travellers. 
Within hours of the decision to ground planes businesses started to count the cost with peoples travel plans collapsing and many becoming effectively stranded. The impact of the volcanic eruption is already being estimated as costing airlines £130million per day, although rail, ferry and some hotel operators are reporting massive increases in business as alternative arrangements are sought. 

Europe moves to better integrate resilience

The European Union has held its Third Civil Protection Forum where  more than 500 people heard Stavros Dimas, European Commissioner for the Environment, set out his vision for a resilient Europe.
Over the last two decades, the number and severity of disasters has increased significantly. This trend is expected to continue - and as a result of climate change we can anticipate an increase in heat waves, storms and heavy rainfall. These changes in weather patterns will increase our vulnerability to events such as forest fires and floods.
These changes are already happening and the results are only too visible. Earlier this year forest fires circled Athens. In the last week we have seen unprecedented flooding across England and Ireland. The Irish flooding has been described by John Gormley, the Irish Minister for the Environment, as a ‘once-in-800-years’ event. But as the climate changes this type of event could become common place.
Every disaster is a human tragedy. Each year many people are killed and many more face severe disruption to their daily life. As well as the devastating cost to human life, the financial costs are also high. Disasters cost Europe €15 billion each year. Last week's floods in England have already cost an estimated €100 million.
For all of these reasons, there is an urgent need for Europe to develop its civil protection capacities to deal with increasing levels of risk. We need to develop a society that is more resilient to disasters – whether they are natural or man-made.
A more resilient Europe will require Member States to develop their own national business continuity and resilience capacities. But it is clear that these national efforts can be much more effective when complemented by action at the EU level.
When faced by a major disaster, the pooling of resources from different member states results in a common European response that is more effective than any member state could deliver on its own. These joint efforts can also be more cost-effective since individual governments no longer need to purchase equipment to deal with every possible disaster.
Working together also improves coordination - which is an essential element in any effective response. It is natural for governments to offer support in order to show solidarity with the victims of natural disasters. But, without clear coordination, there is a risk that assistance will be duplicated or that what is sent will not meet the real needs of the affected region. The best intentions need to be structured if they are to be effective. And the Community Mechanism allows the right assistance to be delivered to the right place and with the minimum delay.
The logic for developing a disaster management and business continuity policy across Europe is clear and compelling. In a recent EU survey, 90 percent of those questioned thought the EU should do more to provide support for Member States with disaster management.
This understanding, that by working together we can achieve more than by working alone, is why the last five years has seen the reinforcement of civil protection at the EU level. The Community Civil Protection Mechanism has developed into a strong tool that now handles over 20 emergencies per year. We are cooperating increasingly with international partners such as the United Nations.
The European Commission's Monitoring and Information Centre has become a central hub for European disaster response. The professionalism and dedication of the MIC team is outstanding and has contributed to the added value of the Community Mechanism in managing emergencies both inside and outside Europe.
Since 2007 we have been working hard to implement the new legal framework adopted by the Council, which has strengthened the Mechanism's tools as well as given us new opportunities to co-finance the transport of assistance and to develop readily available modules of civil protection equipment.
A number of these specialist modules have been established to respond to emergencies more quickly. This approach ensures that the European response is swift and that European teams have experience in working together.
With the support of the European Parliament, we were also able to make two fire-fighting planes available this summer to help Member States fight forest fires. The two planes conducted operations in France, Greece, Italy and Portugal and this tactical reserve is a great example of European added value in responding to natural disasters.
To improve our response capacity, we are also looking at the possibilities to develop an EU Rapid Response Capability that would ensure that key resources and essential equipment are always available to form a part of the European response.
In addition to emergency response, prevention policies are an essential part of a holistic approach to civil protection. Following a policy document that was adopted last year, the European Commission is currently in the process of developing a Community approach that can contribute to national prevention efforts.
A starting point will be to improve our information about disasters and their impacts. To do this we are developing guidelines on risk assessment and risk mapping. We are also drawing up an inventory of existing sources of information on disasters. Data on the economic impact of disasters, for example, is likely to be an important tool for assessing the costs and benefits of prevention measures.
In order to share ideas and information between stakeholders we are setting-up a European network for disaster prevention.
There is also a clear need for better communication activities aimed at the general public. A recent survey on Civil Protection showed that only one third of EU citizens are aware of their own country's policies on Business Continuity, disaster prevention, preparedness and response. Even fewer – around 15 percent of citizens – feel informed about policies at EU level.
The European Commission already has a strong role in coordinating and linking the key players in disaster management and we can build on this in future.
In the coming years, the EU will need to develop a disaster management strategy to complement Member States' disaster management plans. In order to improve Europe's resilience, this strategy will need to be comprehensive and cover prevention, preparedness and response.
This is an ambitious objective. But the changes that will be brought in by the Lisbon Treaty - which will come into force in less than one week’s time - mean that it is a realistic level of ambition.
The new Treaty will provide a specific legal basis for civil protection. It will mean that decisions will be taken by qualified majority voting. It introduces a solidarity clause and an obligation for Member States to assist each other. And finally, the Treaty enhances the role of the European Parliament - and by doing so it will allow the opinion of EU citizens to be better reflected in shaping EU policy.
The frequency of natural and man-made disasters is increasing and climate change, the greatest threat facing our planet, will make this worse. To deal with these threats we need to further improve the capacity of our civil protection forces. And one important way in which to do this will be to develop the ways in which European-level action can complement national responses. The next Commission will have the opportunity of building on the good work of the last years and making sure that European civil protection authorities have the right tools at their disposal to react to any type of emergency situation. It will also be faced with the challenge of building effective prevention policies.


Massive leap in hospital admissions despite a 'mild' Pandemic

The NHS faced a sevenfold increase in people admitted for flu last year (2009) it has revealed with 33,376 bed days taken up by people against only 4,163 in 2008.

The rise was worst in the last quarter of the year with some 20,744 hospitalised between October and December compared to 1,585 in the same quarter of 2008.

Marsh Finds UK Firms lacking Knowledge of Overseas Risks

Research by Marsh has determined that "British organizations are more concerned during the recession by overseas risks affecting their supply chains and business rather than by threats closer to home."

In its new Business Continuity Management (BCM) survey, "Facing an Uncertain Future," Marsh polled 109 UK firms and public sector organizations to establish their attitudes towards and levels of preparedness for key BCM risks such as terrorism, supply chain disruption and economic conditions.

Managing Risk - Risk & Security in a Complex World, 18th May 2010

When you think about risks posed by IT today, your concerns go way beyond what’s happening in the data centre or the IT department. Because in most organisations, IT has become an essential part of virtually every business process. As a result, managing Risk now means much more than protecting systems and data.  It means protecting the business itself. 

Bio threats - politics or preparation. A changing landscape


Preparing or Politics?

Proper preparation can prevent poor performance

Can the politics and the science surrounding Bio Threats ever be separated and progress made ? This is the important question that persisted, following the SDA Bio-preparedness debate held at the Solvay in Brussels.
A range of thoughtful, serious experts came together and shared their views on the level of the threats faced, and the measures in place and being planned to help combat any Bio-Threat events. 
The consensus of opinion from the report contributors and conference speakers made it crystal clear that Biological Threats were indeed very real from natural and also manmade sources. Although there was some divergence of opinion on the likely risks of a biological attack, it was interesting to note that such differences were focused more on the impact and type of attack, rather than its inherent probability.

Tenth Annual BCM study Published

10th Annual BCM report published by Cabinet Office and CMI

The CMI 2009 Business Continuity Management report reveals a pressing need for UK organisations to guard against disruption and to be wary of complacency towards possible risks. Supported by the Cabinet Office, the survey shows that 52 per cent of organisations across the UK have a business continuity plan (BCP) - the highest level recorded by the survey.

However, the percentage of managers reporting that continuity is regarded as important in their organisation has fallen over the past year from 76 per cent to 64 per cent.

Risk Scenarios ... how well are we prepared?


The Cold War may be history, but with threats ranging from global warming to terror cells, Britain's emergency planners are now struggling to prepare for a greater range of potential disasters than ever before.

Since the outcry after the poorest citizens of New Orleans were left marooned in their ruined city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, emergency planning has been thrown " harshly " into the spotlight.

UK Whiteout - SMB's need better Business Continuity Planning


With SMB's facing severe disruption the Continuity Forum asks is it always someone elses fault?

As business struggles in the face of economic recession, heavy snowfall across the UK has added to their woes, but also highlights the lack of Business Continuity Planning in most businesses.

New Pandemic guidance for Doctors announced

The guidance says sensible preparation now will make the difference between just ‘getting through’ a pandemic and maximising the number of lives that can be saved. There were three pandemics in the last century which caused public health emergencies and many experts believe another one is overdue.

It is, however, impossible to predict its timing. The BMA/RCGP guidance is intended as a practical guide for GPs and practice managers. It details how GP surgeries will be expected to adapt from their usual method of working and gives information and guidance on the following:


Environment Agency responds to Pitt review findings on 2007 Summer flooding

Category Business Continuity legislative, regulatory and government

Environment Agency accepts Pitt Review in Full

The report of Sir Michael Pitt's Review into the floods of Summer 2007 was published in June 2008. The Government welcomes this Review, and pays tribute to Sir Michael Pitt and his team. They have thoroughly reviewed the flooding that happened in 2007 and identified clearly the lessons that should be learned.

New CCA Good Practice Guidelines announced

Category Business Continuity legislative and regulatory

CCS support delivers further support for Category 1 and 2 responders

The Cabinet Office has published a set of Good Practice Guidelines for the Civil Contingencies Act (2004) and further supports the Resilience Capability Programme.

Business ignoring pandemic risk ... planning apathy highlighted in latest study

All organisations in the public and private should have created plans to curb the effects and mitigate the impact of the disruption caused by a Pandemic yet our study shows 73% do not have proper plans to protect the business or its employees.

This stark finding comes after the National Risk Register produced by the Cabinet Office highlighted the threat of a pandemic as the most serious threat to the UK.

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