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John Lewis builds own crisis control system

Karen Gomm
John Lewis has developed and patented its own internet-based crisis management system after failing to find a suitable product on the market.

The system was tested in a simulated crisis management trial in February and has since been used successfully in a real crisis, the retailer said.

The system, Crisis Commfile, was developed by two in-house developers; one business continuity practitioner and one programmer.

It provides real-time shared communications between mul-tiple locations during an emergency, allowing those responsible for resolving the crisis to view current and past dialogue.

"Our objective was to create a facility with a highly intuitive user-friendly interface that could use a very low bandwidth connection with minimum penalty in speed but offering high security and demanding no formal budget," a spokeswoman for John Lewis said.

"We built it ourselves because we could not find anything that brought together the tools and data we needed to help manage our progress through a crisis.

"We regard resilient, sequenced, time-stamped, searchable communication as being of critical importance in the management of what could be a fast evolving crisis," she said.

The web-based system runs Microsoft IIS on Windows 2003 using ASP.net and C# code. The retailer used rapid application development techniques to produce a prototype and develop it into a full enterprise application.

Retailers go on 'war footing' >>

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