A long time ago, in a world before community resilience was understood, there was a city that grew and spread across two sides of a wide river. The city had grown from its roots on the western side, where all the commercial, cultural and health services where located, to the eastern side where many people had chosen to live.
This expansion was made possible by an elegant bridge that connected the two sides, otherwise they would have had to make a 50km detour to the only other bridge across the river.
Life was good, until the day the ship hit the span.
That was 5 January 1975, when the bulk ore carrier Lake Illawarra collided with the Derwent Bridge, in Hobart, Tasmania. The collision caused a large section of the bridge deck to collapse into the river. Fortunately it was a Sunday evening, so there was little vehicle traffic of the bridge, but 12 people still lost their lives in the incident.
It took about 1 year to establish a temporary (reduced capacity) bridge, and it was over 2.5 years after the incident before the full capability of the bridge was restored. The isolation and disconnection led to significant increase in crime on the Eastern shore – among other community issues.
Since then we have learned a lot about the impact of a disaster on the community, and how to help these communities to recover. Hopefully that learning will guide the recovery from the current brushfire disaster that impacted the Tasman Peninsula.
Even though we did not talk about BCM and resilience back in those days, I would hope we have learned some lessons from this and other subsequent incidents. One of the obvious lessons is that the impact of disasters often last for longer than 24-72 hours.
But then I see yet another case of a client who has put in place “business continuity” or “resilience” strategies that can only be sustained for a few days.
How often do we confuse luck with adequate preparation?
Consider this, last week a ship hit the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. A minor incident compared to the Hobart case, but a near miss should be triggering some thinking and “what if” scenario
analysis from anybody exposed to similar traffic bottlenecks.
- Do we know where our critical workforce live, their major commuting corridors and their normal commuting mode of transport?
- Beyond the critical, have we mapped significant clusters of staff and the most significant transport corridors they would use?
- Look at the sustainability of your strategies, and do it honestly. Don’t pretend and hide behind assumptions that somebody else will fix everything that was broken in 72 hours!
You may also want to review this publication from PwC, who also seem to have come to the conclusion that we need plans that taken account of impacts that run “Beyond the first 48 hours“. While a little self-serving in parts it certainly highlights that we still do not seem to learn.
Anybody willing to share?
Do you highlight the design limitations of your BC solutions?
How long can your operations be sustained in “recovery” mode?