Natural disasters costlier than ever, government says


Among all of the threats businesses and government agencies face, perhaps none is as costly as a natural disaster, according to newly released documents from Public Safety Canada.


The report noted that as global warming increases the risk of natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes across Canada, the costs associated with dealing with these events makes them one of the biggest threats to public safety and business continuity in the country, Global News reported. Although the internal briefing document specifically looked at how the federal government should be planning and paying for these kinds of threats, its findings provide a clear-cut lesson to enterprises nationwide on the dilemma they now face.


“The recent, dramatic increase in costs related to natural disasters indicates a broader trend in Canada and globally,” the report said, according to Global News. “Worldwide costs of natural disasters have increased steadily from an annual average of losses of $25 million in the 1980s to $130 billion in the 2000(s).”


Perhaps the most vivid reminder of how much devastation can be wrought from a natural disaster occurred earlier this year in Alberta. Mass flooding there shut down the business hub of downtown Calgary, forcing businesses to scramble to find alternative ways to stay operational. According to Global News, the expected total financial fallout from the floods could top $5 billion.


How to best prepare for a natural disaster
As the Calgary floods and government documents show, the price of dealing with a natural disaster is only going to rise further in cost in the next few years. Companies cannot afford to be caught unprepared in these scenarios, yet again illustrating the value of comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery services.


“Being able to leap into action when any type of disaster hits – severe weather, natural disasters, security breaches, or anything that threatens a company’s ‘always-available’ service requirements – is a layers-deep response that involves many arms of an organization,” Sun Life Financial CTO Stevan Lewis wrote for the Financial Post earlier this month. “For those who get it wrong, there can be severe consequences to the financial health and reputation of a company, not to mention the trust level of its employees, customers or shareholders.”


In a disaster recovery plan, perhaps the biggest variable to deal with is enterprise storage and data protection. Relying on just one option for housing mission-critical assets is a recipe for disaster, as any Calgary-based business can now attest to.  In order to make sure that they can obtain vital data and applications no matter what, enterprises may want to implement a multi-tiered data storage infrastructure design that features redundant information sets potentially placed in a cloud computing solution.


Business continuity and disaster recovery go beyond just data protection, however, as Lewis noted that communication is key in these situations as well. In the aftermath of the Alberta floods, for instance, many businesses resorted to using social media outlets like Twitter since their core communication channels were knocked offline. Instead of utilizing these kinds of tools, businesses may be far better off with a cloud-hosted offering like a unified communication and collaboration as a service (UCCaaS) solution.


Companies looking to update their network operations centre to better cope with the dangers posed by natural disasters can partner with FlexITy, one of Canada’s largest managed IT services providers. FlexITy offers a wide range of disaster recovery services and compliance solutions that can help enterprises better cope with the myriad threats they face today.