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SIOP Disaster Recovery Plan

3/30/2006   

At its meeting on February 4, 2006, the Conference Planning Committee decided that a written disaster recovery plan should be established should a disaster threaten to disrupt the conducting of the annual conference. The continuing impact of Hurricane Katrina was very much in mind as the committee discussed the need for such a contingency plan. The matter was presented to the Executive Committee and President Leaetta Hough. President Hough encouraged the development of the plan and requested that the resulting plan be posted to the SIOP Web site. This document represents the basics of SIOP's disaster recovery plan.  

Types of Disasters 

According to FEMAs Emergency Management Guide for Business and Industry, a disaster or emergency is any unplanned event that can cause deaths or significant injuries to employees, customers or the public; or that can shut down your business, disrupt operations, cause physical or environmental damage, or threaten the facility's financial standing or public image.  

For the purpose of this report, three types of disasters were considered:

  • A disaster that affects the conference hotel
  • A disaster that affects the conference city
  • A disaster that affects the operation of the Administrative Office

For disasters that affect the entire conference city or region (a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina), a new host city would have to be quickly established.  A disaster affecting the operation of the Administrative Office would cause difficulties with the smooth operation of the conference, although the conference could proceed as planned in its original location.  The challenge would be the safety of critical documents and information and the ability to restore or access them at a remote location.  Business continuity would also be a concern.  

Potential Impact on SIOP 

The annual conference brings in more than $800,000 gross revenue in registrations, sponsorships, workshops, and miscellaneous income.  This represents more than 60% of SIOP's income.  Although SIOP has investment funds to help soften the blow of a financial shortfall should the conference be cancelled, this would cause problems with the cash flow of the organization.  Obviously, the conference is one of the highlights of the SIOP year and a major financial contributor and should be held if possible.  

In the wake of a disaster, a likely result is confusion on the part of leaders, members, and conference attendees.  Therefore, having a disaster recovery team identified, a communication plan developed, contingencies in place, as well as proper data safeguards should be priorities of SIOP.  

Current Procedures 

The following procedures to ensure business continuity are:

  • Weekly backups of the primary (Mercury) server.  The tape backup is stored at an offsite location (executive director's house).  Included on this server are most Excel, Word, and graphics files related to the administration, conference, and publications areas.
  • A backup of the database is to be made weekly.  This includes our membership files, conference files, advertising records, and more.  This is also stored offsite at the executive director's house.
  • A backup of the database and the website is also maintained at DACOR, our Internet service provider, located a short distance from the Administrative Office in Bowling Green.
  • At the conference planning meeting in February 2006, the need for offsite backups was further discussed.  An online backup service was suggested, but the cost for our volume is prohibitive.  A plan was developed to establish our own remote backup server.  Backups are now made by Internet connection.  SQL server data replication has been implemented for both the database and Web site. The replication server is located in Dearborn, Michigan.

Conference Contingency Planning   

SIOP has a number of options should a disaster affect the conference.  The first step would be to determine if an alternate hotel could be located in or around the conference city.  Due to the high number of conference rooms and the need for meeting space, a convention center with multiple adjacent hotels could be considered.  The use of a nearby college campus is another option.  Should the disaster be citywide or regional, a second-tier city could be considered (e.g., Columbus, St. Louis, Kansas City).  Columbus could be a very suitable location due to its proximity to the Administrative Office and its convention center.  

Another creative option is to piggyback some aspects of the conference with the fall consortium.  The spring conference could move forward on a scaled down basis. Workshops, Sunday Seminars, and master tutorials could be added to an expanded fall consortium program.  Postponing some of these events would give an additional six months of planning time since the consortium is held in October.  

Management of the Disaster Recovery Plan 

Implementation of the Disaster Recovery Plan will be the responsibility of the Emergency Action Committee, executive director, and the conference chair acting as the Disaster Recovery Team.  The primary method of communication to members will be via the SIOP Web site.  E-mail, telephone, fax will also be used as needed to quickly communicate to key parties. An effort should be made to have a statement placed on the Web site within three hours of a disaster. If the SIOP Web site is not functional, contact should be made with APA and APS to utilize their Web sites to convey important information to leaders, members, conference attendees, vendors and other interested parties. The disaster recovery plan should be accessible online to the Disaster Recovery Team along with an updated list of contact information for each DRT member and administrative office staff member.  

Communications Plan 

  • Notification of Disaster Recovery Team: It will be the responsibility of the Executive Director to inform members of the DRT of the disaster and activate the team. This should be done in consultation with the President or Conference Chair if possible. In the event of a disaster that prevents the Executive Director from carrying out this duty, the President should activate the DRT. It is especially important that the Emergency Action Committee be notified since they may be called upon to vote quickly on necessary action.
  • General Notification: Within three hours of notification of a disaster, a general notice should be posted on the Web site. This notification should only include the basic facts and not offer speculation on the impact of the disaster. For example, We have been notified that there has been a major fire at the Central Hotel, site of our upcoming conference. SIOP has a contingency plan for such situations and the emergency management team has been activated. We are gathering additional information and will provide it as soon as it is available. We will let you know if and how this unfortunate situation will affect our conference. Updates will be provided on this Web site as they are available.
  • Notification of Executive Board of Directors: As the governing body of SIOP, each Executive Board member should be contacted as soon as possible. If conditions allow, members should be contacted by telephone.
  • Other Key Parties: Others to be notified of developments impacting the SIOP conference or AO operations:
    • SIOP members
    • Conference Attendees
    • Conference Presenters
    • Conference Sponsors/Exhibitors
    • APA
    • APS
    • TIP and Journal Publishers
    • Vendors for Conference-related supplies

This plan represents a working document to be expanded, revised and updated by the Executive Board, Conference Planning Committee, and administrative staff as appropriate. 

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