Death and technology

commentary If the Grim Reaper had dropped in to his local Internet cafe to look in on some tech news sites over the past few weeks, he would have nodded approvingly. In fact, the spectre of death would have headed outside to take a couple of practice swings of his scythe to limber up for a big task ahead.

commentary If the Grim Reaper had dropped in to his local Internet cafe to look in on some tech news sites over the past few weeks, he would have nodded approvingly.
Iain Ferguson, News Editor, ZDNet Australia

In fact, the spectre of death would have headed outside to take a couple of practice swings of his scythe to limber up for a big task ahead.

The threat of a bird flu pandemic -- with consequent mass illness and fatalities -- has sent government officials and company executives scrambling for their business continuity, crisis management and disaster recovery manuals.

Australian authorities are apparently reviewing how the nation's communications networks could handle a massive shift of people from office to home-working as organisations try to minimise the effect of a pandemic on their operations.

According to some estimates, some 30 percent of workers could be laid up at home by the bug, with a hefty percentage more directed to work from home in comparative isolation to minimise their risk of infection.

Welfare agencies and financial services companies at home and abroad are among the leaders in contingency planning for a widespread outbreak of a human variation of bird flu.

According to ZDNet Australia's United Kingdom-based sister site Silicon.com, HSBC is among those taking the threat seriously, predicting that up to 50 percent of its staff could go sick in the event of a pandemic and saying it was preparing for staff to work from home, or via video link and teleconference facilities.

Further adding to the bleak tone of late was Victor Meyer, the global head of business continuity management at Deutsche Bank, who warned this week that firms were failing to comprehensively plan for extreme unexpected events such as terrorist attacks or large-scale natural disasters.

Meyer, who clearly brings a ray of sunshine into every room he enters, told delegates at a conference "in order to avoid tragedy, it is necessary to think tragically".

Apparently Deutsche employees in Tokyo can rest assured that a catastrophic earthquake there is top of the business continuity management team's planning priorities at the moment.

There is no doubting the resonance of Meyer's words, particularly for any Australian organisations which have not undertaken any planning for bird flu or other similar-scale disaster. The mantra should always be hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Your writer now has to leave. There is a pale figure in a dark cloak in a corner of the office beckoning me over for a game of chess. Looks like I shouldn't have eaten the salmon mousse for lunch.

What are you doing to prepare for a bird-flu pandemic? Is your organisation equipped to handle a massive disaster like an earthquake or terrorist attack? E-mail us at edit@zdnet.com.au and let us know.

Iain Ferguson is the News Editor of ZDNet Australia.

To take your opportunity to vent about what's bugging you in enterprise technology, visit ZDNet Australia's disaster recovery blog, penned by myself and journalist Steven Deare. The blog can be accessed here.

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All