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  1. Tweeting About Phone Sabotage
  2. It's All About Communications for Command and Control
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It's All About Communications for Command and Control

When telecom sabotage occurs, not only the well-being of your organization is at stake, but often the lives and livelihoods of employees, families, and customers as well. Therefore, it makes sense to organize and write "First Alert" procedures with the intention of getting your response into gear, regardless of which technology survives the event, and in the shortest time possible. The U.S. military has long recognized that command and control is key to any response. This makes sense, since most of their mission involves responding to catastrophic, unexpected, and potentially deadly situations. As we have pointed out in previous articles, the military has a suitable acronym, "4Ci," which refers to the major areas of concern in a disaster:

  • Command
  • Control
  • Communications
  • Computers
  • Intelligence

What was so bad about the latest incident in California is that it knocked out 4Ci, not only for AT&T but for thousands of its customers.

Today, businesses need to be more like the military—prepared to coordinate their response to any situation, no matter what happens. Part of that process is deciding issues like who would need to come to work immediately in a disaster, and who should stay home. Who needs to change the way they work, such as telecommuting—or, as in previous examples, by driving from house to house conducting "wellness checks"?

Organize your thoughts systematically and create a list like the following:

  • Who will comprise your initial response teams?
  • How will you contact them?
  • How do you document call-out numbers?
  • How do you keep call-out numbers up to date?
  • Where are all your emergency numbers?
  • Who do you call in case of injury or death?
  • Who will be your spokesperson for the media?
  • What will your customers hear when they call you after a disaster?

Considering a situation like the fiber-optic sabotage, an equally important part of the process should be deciding how to communicate with responders, based on which communication mediums survive.

Selecting the right technologies makes your First Alert procedures more powerful and yet more flexible in their ability to respond to changing situations, whether you're dealing with earthquakes or severed fiber-optic cables. For example, have you considered all of these potential communications options?

  • Wireless phones
  • Voice conference bridges
  • Two-way radios
  • BlackBerry units
  • Laptop PCs
  • Push-to-talk phones
  • Broadcast fax machines
  • Fax servers
  • Offsite hosted email accounts
  • Offsite hosted voicemail accounts
  • Satellite phones
  • "Black box" wireless-to-landline adapters
  • VoIP phones

Let me give you a few examples of technologies that you can use to augment your First Alert procedures—and some of these options are free:

  • As the name implies, Totally Free Conference Calls is a conference bridge, and it's free. Imagine being able to publish a number that can host up to 99 conference participants after a disaster. This one small precaution could do wonders for maintaining 4Ci after a disaster.
  • Telecom Recovery's 's product is surprisingly affordable and would have been of great help in the California fiber-cut. It stores your numbers in a place where they can be quickly redirected to any surviving technology (satellite, VoIP, etc.) after a disaster. It can easily be programmed with "update" messages to customers from CEOs and others; it can also broadcast faxes, replace email accounts, host conference bridges, make outbound conference calls, and more.
  • Don't rule out Twitter and AOL instant messaging! Even though some people consider them toys, they traverse a VoIP network that was specifically designed by the military in the 1960s to 1980s to survive disasters, even a nuclear strike. That's why they work in lesser disasters, such as telecom sabotage. Find out about these technologies and integrate them into your First Alert procedures. You might even be able to organize them using the Telecom Recovery product above or using other products such as the one offered by TeleContinuity.
  • To learn more about satellite communications, check out the Global VSAT Forum. GVF is a nonprofit organization that can inform you about hundreds of good providers.
  • If you have a large call center, ask Telecom Recovery about "PRI in the sky," a service in which they can literally drop a T1/PRI from the air to you, no matter what gets cut or sabotaged. You redirect inbound numbers to your PRI in the sky, using the same vendor.
  • Rentsys Recovery Services offers a similar satellite-based product. Building destroyed? That's no problem for Rentsys, which can roll an 18-wheeled building to you and then connect it by satellite!

Once you have organized the fundamentals in your head, seek out and use enabling technologies like those described above. They can help you to develop a level of reliability that rivals what the military uses, ensuring that you are never out of touch.

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