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Emergency Management, Business Continuity, and Disaster Recovery Planning

Several departments at the University of Michigan have conducted or are in the process of conducting emergency management planning that includes measures to ensure business continuity during a crisis as well as disaster recovery procedures to enable an efficient and timely return to regular operations. The plans being implemented include regular reviews to ensure currency of the plans.

Information and Technology Services (ITS) has developed templates that serve as guides for collecting detailed information regarding business processes. These templates are available for departments to adapt for their business needs.

Purpose of Business Continuity Planning

Business continuity is the ability of a business to continue its operations with minimal disruption or downtime in the event of natural or intentional disasters. It encompasses dozens of scenarios – terrorist attacks, earthquakes, fires, information technology disruptions caused by computer hackers or viruses, hostage situations, structural failures -- that could interrupt a business. Whether the event is natural or man-made, the impact is the same, lives may be lost, business operations may fail, and the University may be affected by the physical and economic impacts far beyond the immediate visible damage.

Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is a structured program to ensure business survival by planning for reasonably forseeable business interruptions and by taking appropriate, cost justifiable actions. Status information is available for U-M central offices' business process continuity plans.

Reasons for Developing Disaster Recovery Plans (from DRII)

DRI International (DRII) is a nonprofit organization and the world’s leading authority on business continuity. It presents the following reasons for undertaking disaster recovery planning:

  • Corporate responsibility: It makes good business sense and with increased corporate transparency, key stakeholders are insisting on effective business continuity plans.
  • Community responsibility: The viability of a community’s businesses, especially small businesses, is core to community reconstruction after a disaster
  • Fiscal responsibility: Business continuity plans are a good return on investment as organizations have a better chance of staying in business and incurring significantly less costs as a result of a disruption.
  • Customer service: Since 9-11, the federal government is increasingly mandating that core service industries implement and test business continuity plans to ensure uninterrupted critical customer service.
  • Federal regulations: For those industries that are federally regulated because of the nature of the service provided, a business continuity plan helps the business adhere to requirements and guidelines.
  • Technological advances: A business continuity plan provides an effective check to ensure rapid technological advances do not put an organization’s communication and other vital functions at risk during a crisis.
  • Intangible assets: An effective business continuity plan captures and protects critical employee knowledge; as vital an asset as data or capital.
  • Pragmatic preparation: The number and diversity of business interruptions has been steadily increasing.

University of Michigan Organizational Priorities

The priorities that were established as guidelines when the University was preparing for potential problems related to Y2K remain applicable today:

  • Priority 1: Health and safety of faculty, staff, students, hospital patients, contractors, renters, and any other people on University premises.
  • Priority 2: Delivery of health care and hospital patient services: admissions, diagnostic tests, outpatient appointments, surgery & other procedures, patient records availability, etc.
  • Priority 3: Continuation and maintenance of research specimens, animals, biomedical specimens, research archives.
  • Priority 4: Delivery of teaching/learning process and student-related services: registration, faculty assignments, classroom scheduling, drop/add, financial aid services, government reports, grades, admissions, housing, etc.
  • Priority 5: Security and preservation of University facilities and equipment.
  • Priority 6: Maintenance of support for community/University partnerships.

Emergency Planning

There are three areas of focus for hazard planning: emergency management, business continuity and disaster recovery. Emergency management involves recognition and assessment of the impact of an incident. In a University setting, this may be Department of Public Safety recognizing smoke or flames in a building and contacting the Fire Department and facilities managers.

Washtenaw County Hazard Ranking List

Population Impacted
Convective weather (severe winds, lightning, tornados, hailstorms) Once or more/yr.
Hazardous materials incidents: transportation Once or more/yr.
Hazardous materials incidents:fixed site Once or more/yr.
Severe winter weather hazards (ice / sleet / snow storms) Once or more/yr.
Infrastructure failures Once every 5 yrs.
Transportation accidents: air and land Once or more/yr.
Extreme temperatures Once every 5 yrs.
Flood hazards: riverine / urban flooding Once every 10 yrs.
Nuclear attack Has not occurred
Petroleum and natural gas pipeline accidents Once every 10 yrs.
Fire hazards: wildfires Once or more/yr.

Source: Washtenaw County Hazard Mitigation Plan