Many of us have put the snow shovels back in storage and planning for the first round of golf. However, this winter has at least one more punch up its sleeve with another Colorado low heading our way. When preparing for the storm, there is a wide variety of events to plan for. This April 13th, Southern Manitoba is expected to have what some are calling the storm of the century. Looking back to April of 1997 as a reference point for the previous storm of the century, we learned that there were strong winds with an excessive amount of heavy snow. Many trees fell and sometimes took out power lines which disrupted power for a few days. Of course the aftermath of the clean up meant all this snow had to melt causing massive flooding…especially from the overflowing banks of the Red River which also resulted in road closures and detours which likely affected your supply chain. Whatever this storm throws at you, please ensure you take adequate measure to ensure the safety of your family and staff.
According to Agility Recovery, 70 percent of businesses or organizations will face a power outage within the next 12 months. Therefore, it is important they understand the potential impacts. On any given day, there is a chance the power could fail and either wait it out or lean on the design already in place within the network. This storm could challenge the capabilities of most, if not all of the designs already in place. Weather-related outages have doubled since 2003. We’ve put together a good/better/best approach to protecting against loss of power.
The basics are a good quality surge protector, this may not keep you active but it may provide some protection in the event of intermittent power. If you’re not sure if this is adequate protection, do some quick inventory of your electronic assets and ask yourself if you want to roll the dice on replacing everything that’s plugged in and unprotected.
The better approach is to connect your server, workstations, routers and DVR’s to a UPS with some decent battery life. SolutionsIT stocks UPS’s designed to keep laptops operating for around 15 minutes so again ask yourself if this is the best design for your company’s needs.
The best recommendation is the implementation of a tested Generator, fueled up and ventilated with backup supply of fuel for the long haul. Make sure you have adequate heavy gauge extension cords or perhaps you have it set up directly into your electrical box. Essential businesses like health care, radio stations or food supply companies would already have this in place.
Internet Connectivity (with power down)
When preparing for the storm, let’s anticipate that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) has also lost power or at least that your router is no longer powered which results in the loss of internet connectivity. Every network will have a different design determining where software applications and data are stored. In the event that the internet is essential, SolutionsIT recommends testing the capability of running internet from your cell phone, either tether or use your phone as a hot spot.
If your vendors/clients are expecting time sensitive communications from you, now might be the time to notify them that delays are likely. Plan ahead to protect the reputation of your company.
Work from home capabilities
Many businesses have already adopted a work-from-home strategy. Preparing for the storm means testing existing VPN capabilities or remote access to the cloud where your data resides, if you haven’t already done so.
Test the inter-connectivity with your staff to ensure they can feel connected, we recommend Microsoft Teams for communication and information sharing. Make sure staff are all accounted for and safe, then worry about productivity.
Does your phone system have a fail-over to your cell phone or home phone if you can’t get to the office? Better yet, do you have a software application that allows for full office phone communication from your cellular device like 3CX? If your existing automated message does not reflect adequately on your present state of business, do you know the steps to record an emergency message? Check with your phone service provider or SolutionsIT to help guide you through connectivity options.
You may wish to monitor how much snow is being stacked up in front of your entrance or longer term surveillance of possible flooding issues. Now would be a good time to ensure you have the appropriate connectivity to your surveillance system using your mobile device. You may also want to make sure your DVR has adequate storage space and that your cameras won’t unexpectable be blocked from view due to snow build-up. Your DVR should also be connected to adequate power supply via UPS or generator.
When preparing for the storm brought about more questions than answers, it’s nice to know that SolutionsIT has 24/7 after hour service, we can be reached at 204-325-1000.
Storms are an opportunity for community building. Your community and the people and in your area may be in a much worse situation than you. Challenge your staff to be creative problem solvers…what can you do to lessen the stress during someone else’s misfortunes. Perhaps sandbagging, snow-clearing or providing rides to shut-in’s if you have a vehicle worthy of less than optimal road conditions. Whatever you chose, be safe and we’ll see you on the other side of the storm.