2016: The Time to Implement Effective Capabilities for Tech Resilience

Numerous threats could take your systems offline — now is the time to prepare for an emergency.

by Ted Ross, General Manager and CIO, Los Angeles Information Technology Agency / December 14, 2015
© 2015 Jonah Light Photography
© 2015 Jonah Light Photography

After watching your neighbor suffer a crisis, you have two choices: Prepare yourself or hope for the best. 2015 has evidenced many crises among our neighbors in government and business. The crises came from different angles (cyberattacks, natural disasters, localized outages), but had a common theme — the need for resilience in this increasingly digital world.

As a technology leader in Los Angeles, I have the honor to serve an outstanding mayor and elected officials, dedicated city departments and passionate Angelenos. They remind me daily of the need to digitally improve, engage and innovate. But I can also hear an unspoken request to remain. At no time do our customers rely on us more than during a disaster. As technology leaders, we have been introducing powerful, innovative tools over the last few years that revolutionize the way our government is run. However, our users and customers have grown to rely on these tools, not even realizing the extent to which they do. That’s why I believe 2016 will quickly become a year of technology resilience — from cyberthreats, from natural disasters, even from ourselves.

There has never been a better time to implement effective capabilities for technology resilience, which are often much simpler than we think. First of all, we must know the business. As technology organizations, we increasingly push our staff members to learn about business operations and be better partners to our customers. A simple extension of this is to understand what technologies are critical to them during a disaster and take basic actions so they’re available during a crisis.

Second, we must leverage technologies that make this an easier lift. Cloud infrastructure and remote backup services are making offsite data storage easier than ever. In addition, these same platforms can burst to Web-scale during a disaster. As an example, the city of Los Angeles maintains a state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in downtown L.A. As formidable as this facility is, it’s still susceptible to possible threats.

By identifying this situation and the mission-critical tools required by the Emergency Management Department, our innovative Information Technology Agency staff launched a new Virtual EOC in the cloud ready to deliver anytime/anywhere crisis management for any situation. Add periodic testing to this approach and the city of L.A. has significantly improved its resilience in a highly cost-effective way.

Last, use the “buddy system.” Governments in every region are dealing with the same challenges. Find one just outside of your immediate proximity and create a partnership for the eventuality of a crisis. Feel free to leverage a host of formalized standards and practices (ISO 22301/22317, ITIL BCM, NIST SP 800-30, etc.) or political leadership (Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Resilience by Design). However we do it, let’s make 2016 a year of preparation; our stakeholders are counting on us.

This article was originally published on TechWire.