Preparedness & Recovery

Preparedness Starts in the Cloud in Scott, La.

The city's disaster preparedness plan boils down to three main steps, relying heavily on cloud services.

by Purvis J. Morrison / February 19, 2013

Scott, La., is a vibrant, welcoming community of more than 8,000 people. It’s a growing city experiencing economic and residential growth where Cajun and Creole French music and dancing are very much alive, along with gumbo, jambalaya and the world-renowned boudin and cracklins. As a suburb of Lafayette, Scott’s proud community spirit is evident in everything we do.

We are a positive and optimistic community of families and individuals, located 39 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico. And, yes, we are in a hurricane zone. 

While Scott has been spared from significant hurricane damage in recent years, sadly we don’t have to look far away to neighboring cities to see the consequences of nature’s violence and understand the risks of being unprepared. As a result, disaster preparedness is something we take seriously to protect our citizens, as well as the data and services that we need to keep our city running. When Hurricane Isaac was on our doorstep in August 2012, we didn’t close City Hall. We didn’t even leave early. Our citizens need to know that we are here for them.

State government employees like us aren’t technophobes, but we use what works. It sometimes takes a while to convince us to make a change, however, being in a hurricane zone forces us to be more forward thinking. After our city clerk attended a government-oriented disaster recovery seminar, we realized that we needed to do more to protect our IT infrastructure, data and services.

Like many cities in these challenging economic times, Scott also is keenly focused on how to maximize its budget and minimize overhead time and costs. Our technology solutions must be easy and manageable for our small staff, as well as cost-efficient. Our disaster preparedness plan boils down to three main steps, relying heavily on cloud services:

Backup electric generators so that City Hall can remain operational in case of a disaster.

Instead of an Exchange server located onsite, our staff uses Google Apps for email, calendaring and file access, and staff use their iPhones to stay connected from any location.

We use the cloud to back up all of our data, instead of storing it on premise or on a tape backup. MozyPro lets our IT staff monitor our backups and ensure that all users are up to date. It’s an easy, reliable system.

By shifting to a cloud backup system and iPhone calendars instead of an Exchange server, all of our data is protected by global data centers that can restore data from any Internet connection. Even if all of our computers are destroyed, because our data is no longer onsite, we could be back up and running in no time.

Fortunately we haven’t suffered any hurricane damage to test our disaster preparedness system yet, but we know it works. When a staff member lost her hard drive, her data was restored quickly. The longest part of the process was waiting for the IT consultant to bring the new hard drive; less than an hour after, all of her data was restored.

With these simple steps in place, we have peace of mind knowing that our data is secured. And because of that, “laissez les bons temps rouler” (let the good times roll), is still the rule of the week here in Scott.

Purvis J. Morrison is the mayor of Scott, La.