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Power system telecommunication and information systems for business continuity and disaster recovery.

Working Group D2.34, ‘Telecommunication and information systems for assuring business continuity and disaster recovery’

Business Continuity is an area of utmost importance in the operation of all participants in the Electricity Grid. In the context of ICT, information and telecommunication systems should be designed to ensure and facilitate business continuity and disaster recovery. The relevant information must be made available to the business during a high impact or disaster event, in order to provide the information necessary for decision making. For example, the continued processing and delivery of telemetry information from the field through data capture must be considered during response to a disaster and the subsequent recovery process. Vital records such as business information stored on ICT systems must be safeguarded.  In support of this, robust and resilient telecommunications and information system infrastructure, fast deployment communication facilities and adequate work processes for dealing with emergency situations are essential.

In response to the above challenges, CIGRE Working Group D2.34, ‘Telecommunication and information systems for assuring business continuity and disaster recovery’ has recently published Technical Brochure 668. (Download free to members € 280 to non members)  The scope of the brochure is to provide a guideline to the reader on this topic.  CIGRE Australia members of this working group were Rob Evans and Theo Pistorius.

The working group identified that ICT is the foundation layer of a grid participating entity's business continuity and ultimately, the safety and continuity of operation of the grid. To respond and recover from an event, many business and operational processes rely on the continuity of ICT systems, as these systems must support the processes and procedures activated during a disaster.

It is therefore, important to ensure that the foundation layer of ICT disaster preparedness is built into an organisation's ICT endeavours. There are 4 key criteria that should be built into any ICT project: 

  • back-up facilities (for replication of data and as a location of alternative operation),
  • power supply independence,
  • network redundancy and,
  • countermeasures against natural disasters (for example local selection, equipment disaster resistance etc.). 

All these ensure that the implemented ICT systems are able to provide a good foundation for business continuity and disaster recovery. 

Drawing on the expertise of working group members from across the world, the brochure explores a number of detailed aspects such as the definition of credible disasters, business impact analysis and risk assessment and, the strategies that need to be incorporated into the design, acquisition, implementation and maintenance processes related to communication networks. 

The working group has the following recommendations for the success of a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan:

1    Planning should be enterprise-wide

2    Business impact analysis and risk assessment are a foundation of an effective Plan

3  The Plan must be validated through testing

4  The Plan should be updated at least annually as part of continuous improvement.