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Terrorism and disaster avoidance.

Sophisticated telecommunications planners are now emphasizing disaster avoidance, not disaster recovery. They are making their plans, allocating their resources and placing their dollars on avoidance.

It's a short step from this to terrorism avoidance.

The end of the conflict in the Gulf will not end the threat of terrorism in the U.S. or to U.S. interests abroad. Clair Sterling, author, "The Terror Network And Octopus," "The terrorism will come at the end of the military conflict and last for years."

There are many precautions you can take to lessen this threat. A member of the Association of Data Communications Users in a recent ADCU newsletter outlined a full page of steps that should be taken. These include the following precautions that you may have overlooked in disaster recovery planning not normaly involving terrorist activities:

*Lock or secure your telephone switch room, telephone closets, and computer room. Keep doors unmarked.

*Admit no one to these areas unless there is a demonstrable need. Check identification of any service people who appear at your premise. Provide escorts if necessary.

*Keep all such areas free from debris and non-essential storage.

*Ask your landlord (if a rental property) what measures are being taken to prevent access to the building. Of primary importance are the building entry points for people as well as for telephone and data communitions circuits. Also at risk are the basement and telephone closets on floors other than yours.

*Contact your electric power utility, service and equipment suppliers and vendors to discuss their plans to handle disruptions. All utilities are important, not just telephone companies.

Other precautions, more non-terroristic in emphasis, are to consider battery back-up, consider acquiring and using cellular equipment, determine what equipment or data should be backed up, the frequency, and should it be stored off site.

Also, run in-house cable on different risers if available, provide for an alternate long distance carrier and alternate local access as redundant services may not be the answer and, lastly, keep a list of critical business and home telephone numbers of staff, vendors, key associates and emergency services.

The emphasis, obviously, whether avoiding terrorism or other disaster, needs to be avoidance. The threat of terrorism demands it. Some telecomminications planners have been woefully slow to realize this.

I remember years ago in the Vietnam era, characterized by more civil unrest than pertained until recently, many companies built detached, secure buildings for their data processing operations. Those were the days when DP ruled the corporate world and telecommunications was a new name for the switchboard room.

That's changed now, in all but a few companies, but some of the personnel haven't changed and many senior managements are a few years older and even less agile in their understanding of telecommunications.

Meanwhile, in most companies telecommunications are the arteries between all activities. Corporate information flow and communications would collapse without them.

Telecommunications is the equivalent of the military "command and control" in most large companies. The military can't operate without it and neither can you.

The 14th annual ADCU national conference, May 20-22, 1991, at the Trump Taj Mahal Hotel in Atlantic City will have several presentations from both ADCU members and users and suppliers in these areas. It's open to everyone. Call 612-881-6803 for details and registration information.

Augie Blegen is a telecommunications consultant and executive director of the Association of Data Communications Users, Inc., P.O. Box 20163, Bloomington, MN 55420, (612) 881-6803.
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Title Annotation:Datacomm User; telecommunications contingency planning
Author:Blegen, August
Publication:Communications News
Article Type:column
Date:Apr 1, 1991
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