IT directors should prepare a portable "battle box" as essential back-up to take away from the office in case of disaster.
Speaking at the IT Directors Forum, Martin Kelmanson, Head of ITCS Division for the British Medical Association in London told delegates that a battle box, containing physical lists of employees, fully charged walkie talkies and other business continuity aids, is now a standard stand-by tool.
Since a London bus blew up outside the BMA offices on 7 July 2005 and forced an instant evacuation of the offices for three weeks, the BMA has made a number of changes to its business continuity plans.
Kelmanson has, for example, modified evacuation planning procedures, especially changing signage; he no longer relies on mobile phones; he has reviewed his insurance policy; he talks regularly to business continuity providers about how they triage; and has double-checked whether life insurance for staff includes terrorism.
"We completely underestimated the human impact," he said.
In reviewing his insurance policies he has decided to spend less money on insuring equipment and investing more on back-up seats. That is because although he suffered a three week denial of service no equipment was actually damaged.
Kelmanson also urged IT directors to prepare for disaster happening more than once. He said a few months after the bus bomb incident the BMA suffered severe flooding due to fractured mains pipes outside the building.
"We must never relax," he said. "It is an ongoing challenge educating the business. This is not about statistics, but about random events."
He added that another potential source of future problems in London is the power supply. "Power is an issue in central London, he said. The session heard from delegates that Docklands has reached the limits of its power such that in certain cases if an organisation puts in a new server they have to also take one out.