A detailed plan for business continuity after an emergency is essential if the organs of the station are to remain functional. These are the support structures upon which the station will depend, especially if the emergency situation extends for a period greater than 24 hours.
WAMU in Washington DC has a detailed plan for business continuity in an emergency. Their plan contains Infrastructure Preparedness Tasks for each department. The tasks for Business Systems illustrate an excellent system for identifying and keeping track of jobs to be done with clearly assigned responsibilities for each:
Table 4.1. Business Continuity Plan
Every person who has had to bring a damaged station back onto the air, or keep a station on the air in an emergency, knows that a credit card with a high limit can be your best asset.
Make sure the card is in the possession of the person or persons who will have primary responsibility for getting the station back on the air. A card carefully stored somewhere in a flooded or burned or earthquake damaged building will be useless. The finance department may balk at issuing such cards. (That is their job after all!) But it must be carefully explained to them that this is a special need that must be filled.
A high limit credit card will ideally be in the possession of critical station staff. If this is not possible then the information about the card - number, PIN, security code - might be kept in a digital file for use for on-line purchases.
If station finances can not support a high limit credit card station staff may be required to fund disaster recovery efforts personally, on a reimbursement basis. In this case it will be critical to document all purchases and to retain all receipts. Management authorization should be obtained in advance if possible to avoid conflicts about repayment later. Alternate methods of payment, such as PayPal, should also be explored and set up in advance of the emergency.
The business records of a station are of primary importance for continued operations in or after an emergency. Data that is taken for granted during normal operations may be difficult or impossible to recreate. An investment of time and money before the emergency will pay big dividends after the event. Off-premises record backup should be considered insurance in the same way that the station carries fire and liability insurance.
The data to be held off-premises will vary from station to station. But certain data is likely to be vital to most stations. When trying to decide what station data must be protected, it can help to ask what data would damage station operations most if it became unavailable; what data would be most devastating to lose.
First level candidates for off-premises storage include:
It has become standard procedure to protect the computers holding vital station data with uninterruptable power supplies and regular backups. But this will not suffice in emergencies that may damage computers or make them inaccessible. Backup servers located at secure, off-premises locations are required.
Numerous companies are in the business of providing reliable and highly secure off site backup for digital records at reasonable cost. Arrangements can be made directly with these companies (or via the station or licensee) IT department (if one exists).
Many stations now hold their music libraries in digital form. Often these libraries form the backbone of station programming. As such they are vital to station recovery plans. As with the member database or other crucial operations data that is backed up regularly, the digital music library contains files and data that are also extremely difficult, and in some cases impossible, to recreate.
Backups of your digital music library are absolutely necessary and should be done on a regular schedule. A combination of on-site and off-site backups is best, with off-site backups ideally done on a weekly basis.
Many station records may exist on paper, and only on paper. These records too may be essential to continued station operation. The paper records must be protected and made available during and after an emergency. But a special challenge may be that these vital records are stored in several locations with each department having its own files and filing systems. Plus, unlike digital data, physical records often are of significant size and weight.
Much in the same way that certain companies offer backup, off-premises storage for digital data, other companies provide the same service for physical records. These companies will provide not only secure storage but document indexing services and programs for assuring that important documents are transferred to backup storage in a timely manner.
In an emergency you may have to conduct operations from locations other than those specified in your station license (or with equipment or power ratings other than specified). Post-Katrina, the FCC will typically grant waivers of their rules or issue a Special Temporary Authority (STA) to allow you to operate legally in such situations.
Situations in which waivers or STAs are needed include the use of a temporary antenna to replace one that is damaged, transmitting from a site other than that specified in the license or operation at reduced power with an emergency antenna.
Information may be found online at: http://www.fcc.gov/pshs/services/sta.html
FCC staff who can help with the waiver and STA process may be reached at these numbers:
202-418-2700 Monday through Friday, 8:00am - 5:30pm EST/EDT
202-418-1122 After hours
The funds spent on the best arrangements for safe, off-premises backup of data, music and paper records will be money wasted unless a program mandating the regular transfer of material to these safe locations is established and adhered to. Frequent backups are always better than occasional backups. Many stations find that a weekly transfer of data works best for them. Consider how quickly your data changes when deciding on the frequency of backup for your station.
The funds needed for emergency operations or recovery may be in the station bank accounts. But without the proper means of access to these accounts these funds will be inaccessible. This information should be part of the data that is secured off premises.
Backup information should include the names of the institutions holding station funds, the account numbers of those accounts and the contact persons at the institution who deals with the business of the station.
For funds upon which checks may be drawn, the list of authorized signers should also be maintained.
Backup information should include the Personal Identification Numbers associated with station debit and credit cards.
Backup information for online accounts should include the URLs and online passwords for these accounts.
Information needed: The location of keys and combinations required to access files and documents at the station.
Multiple trusted information keepers should be identified as the persons who will keep the information needed to access station records in off-premises secure locations.
Information that provides access to station funds clearly must be protected by a high level of security. As always, security must be balanced against convenience and the need for quick access in an emergency.
The business continuity plan at WHYY in Philadelphia, PA provides a good example of how to set forth specific responsibilities for specific teams, including a recovery team.