A Critical National Need

Large-scale disasters cause major disruption and damage to economy and industry. Businesses, which provide goods and services, are the engine that supports the lives of people and functions of the community. Without rapid and robust business recovery, there is no sustainable recovery to the community and economy. For instance, studies have shown that 40% of companies that were forced to shut down for more than 3 days will fail within 3 years. In the tri-county area (Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach) of South Florida alone, if only 5% of the companies can reduce closure time by one (1) week, it will prevent over $200 million of non-property economic losses.

No business, large or small, operates in isolation, but rather through an extensive network of employees, customers, suppliers and supporting infrastructure and ecosystems. A disaster-induced business closing will have ripple and multiplying effect since a company is both a customer and vendor in the supply chain. For instance, a business cannot re-open unless its customers and suppliers resume their operations; the availability of food and/or fuel supply in an area has important implications for the recovery of nearby businesses. Consequently, a robust and sustainable business recovery requires reconnecting and rebuilding such an ecosystem damaged or disrupted by disaster.

Obstacles that Businesses Face

Several key obstacles hinder business recovery process in disaster situations:

  • Lack of real-time, reliable and business relevant data and information in the chaos in the aftermath of a major disaster, without which no sound decision can be made;
  • Lack of ways of communication and coordination both within the company and with partner organizations which their business operations depend on, due to the damage and disruption of the normal communication infrastructure and channels;
  • Lack of ways to accurately understand and assess disaster damages to the infrastructure, organization and operating ecosystem;
  • Lack of ways to reconnect the business supply chain and ecosystem which are broken or fragmented as the result of the disaster, and
  • Lack of tools to assist making disaster recovery decisions encompassing a vast amount of data, a multitude of interlocking factors, and sound risk assessment.

The Business Continuity Information Network (BCIN) Solution

We have been organizing and working with public and private sector partners including Miami-Dade County’s Office of Emergency Management, Palm Beach County’s Division of Emergency Management, Office Depot, IBM, Wal-Mart, Florida First (a consortium of banks), the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, and many others (see our Partners page) for more than three years. We have found that businesses do not have access to a ready solution to these problems despite numerous public/private investments and initiatives for emergency response and disaster data management. Our experience with our partners has shown that they are ready to embrace each other’s best practices, they are ready to share data, and they are eager for a solution that will meet their needs. Their ideal solution would support all phases of a comprehensive disaster management plan: preparation, response, recovery, and mitigation.

BCIN aims to provide a comprehensive and pioneering technology to ensure community-based business continuity from major natural or man-made disasters:

  • BCIN links thousands of companies, NGOs and government agencies across the State of Florida into a B2B community network before and after disasters to minimize business downtime
  • BCIN enables and supports public-private partnership engaged in business continuity
  • BCIN maintains and re-enables critical information flow, supply chain and business ecosystem disrupted by disaster
  • BCIN provides critical information and help businesses with key pre/post-storm decisions by providing critical information such as What is the status of…?
  • Key Employees
  • Facilities
  • Supply chain & Logistics
  • Financial Network
  • Where can I find products/services to help me re-open quickly?
  • Benefits businesses of all sizes, and supports community-wide recovery

Potential Economic Impact

A study by the Insurance Information Institute shows that permanent closure of just 1% of businesses in South Florida will result in the loss of 13,500 jobs, over $1.8 billion in lost sales, and over $414 million in lost payroll in the first year. Gartner estimates that less than 10% of small or medium-sized businesses have disaster contingency and recovery plan.

These studies demonstrate the needs and tremendous potential impact of technologies that address these issues. As an example, we estimate that if technology could help only 5% of the South Florida companies to recover 1 week earlier from a disaster, e.g. a hurricane, it would prevent a direct, non-property related economic loss of over $200 million, thus helping to save thousands of companies and tens of thousands of jobs. Impact to other areas of the country would scale, so the potential impact from this research area will be far greater than the numbers indicated above.

BCIN’s Transformational Capabilities

The technologies developed to meet the identified critical national need would provide the following new transformational capabilities:

  • Cutting edge techniques and tools for managing community-based data related to an organization’s situation & capabilities, for interfacing and ingesting a variety of disaster-related data, e.g. incident action plans, situation reports, disaster damage analysis reports, infrastructure status, etc. from thousands of heterogeneous public/private sources in real-time, for quality control of the disaster-related data with organizational, temporal and geographical sensitivity and different levels of trustworthiness, and for intelligently organizing, indexing and searching the data for different business needs.
  • Intelligent self-learning tools for business profiling, and profile-based information fusion and dissemination techniques, which automatically search, analyze and present only the relevant disaster recovery data and information to different businesses and organizations based on their needs (right-information, to the right people, at the right time and in the right form).
  • Intelligent and automated disaster recovery situation-awareness techniques, for helping disaster recovery managers to accurately assess and understand the complex recovery process, status and business operating conditions in the chaotic and uncertain aftermath of disaster, for assisting the decision makers under stress to comprehensively assess risk factors of the recovery process and to provide support for making sound recovery decisions.
  • Advanced tools for communication and coordination among disaster recovery managers within an organization and external partners with integrated workflow management, flexible information sharing and support for disaster recovery protocol and procedures.
  • Advanced data mining techniques, which will automatically analyze and find useful patterns from the enormous amount of disaster recovery data accumulated in the business continuity network, to help better understand and learn from the recovery process, and improve the preparedness for future disasters.
How to Get involved!
If you’re a Company… in our pilot region find out How It Works and the network activities we are pursuing for 2009 so you can participate.
If you’re a Emergency Management, an NGO with a disaster recovery mission, Departments, and Agencies across Florida have expressed interest in our model and tool. We would like to share our work with you.
If you’re an economic development organization, If you have a mandate to provide assessment and assistance we can provide you with the tools you need to improve your effectiveness. Please contact us.
If you’re a chamber of commerce, We can help you to help your members find the resources they need to recover faster. Check out How It Works now.
If you’re a researcher, BCIN is a platform for investigation. If you are interested collaboration we are too! Read about our Research and Technology and join our community effort.
If you’re a potential partner, We want to hear your ideas and find a way to make them work to help the community. Please contact us.