Resilience to Catastrophic Failures in the National Critical Infrastructure

What Can We Learn From These?

It just goes to show that anyone and anything is at risk of failure.  Last week the unthinkable happened when the UK’s emergency 999 telephone system faced a nationwide technical issue resulting in calls not being connected.

Reliable sources reported that the 999 emergency telephone system suffered a catastrophic system failure, potentially something that they had not planned on or exercised.  The backup plan was to call alternative numbers which quickly overwhelmed the system and was not sustainable.

2023 has seen several high-profile scenarios, where system failures have had a profound effect on productivity and where business continuity plans have been stress tested and business resilience has been compromised. 

In May, half-term chaos ensued, as the UK’s immigration section at ports and airports ground to a standstill when a technical issue with the passport E-Gates created lengthy delays for arriving passengers.  When asked before the event what was the contingency plan for catastrophic failure the Home Office allegedly stated, ‘There probably won’t be one’. If that was the case whatever resilience plans were in place were not going to be robust enough to help manage the situation.  However, in response to the issue, Border Force did staff all the desks, the Police assisted with queue control and water was provided to those having to deal with the long wait, whilst technical teams worked hard to fix the fault. 

Resilience planning is all about working as a team and with stakeholders to coordinate a response to prioritise what needs to be done and when.

Understanding the risks to your business from either internal operations or external forces allows you to create robust resilience plans to help your people to react, respond and to recover quickly no matter what disaster strikes. 

What would your company do in these circumstances, how would you ensure that your business can keep working, providing your services to your clients?

Here are some simple steps to consider:

  1. Assess the potential risks – what is the worst that could happen, operationally and technically?
  2. Identify critical systems to prioritise recovery time objectives.
  3. Identify roles and responsibilities to help respond and recover from a disruptive event.
  4. Put a plan in place so that everyone knows what to do and how.
  5. Train your people.
  6. Run an exercise to play out different scenarios to test your plans and processes.

How can we help?

Inverroy Crisis Management specialises in supporting organisations of all sizes to better understand your risks and plan accordingly to minimise disruption to ultimately protect your business.

We have a team with combined expertise in Business Continuity, Crisis Management, and Security Risk Management Planning to help you plan and prepare on how to navigate any crisis. It’s not a question of if it will happen, but when. A natural disaster, cyber-attack, supply chain disruption, or even a global pandemic can strike at any time.

Sometimes it is the simple things that make the biggest difference and changes to your resilience plans do not have to cost the earth.  We can help you discover what really matters to your company, saving you time, saving you money and building resilience to be ready for whatever the world throws at you.

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