Boston Tragedy Offers Risk-Management Lesson

by. Eric Chabrow

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, which claimed at least three lives and injured 150, we’re all searching for answers of one kind or another.

For security and risk leaders, if they can draw any immediate conclusion from the tragedy, it’s this: No business continuity plan can be overly dependent on wireless communications.

One of the key stories in the immediate aftermath of the bombing was the failure of cellular communications. Despite erroneous reports that cell service had been shut off to prevent remote detonation of any remaining explosives – wireless providers dismissed those reports as groundless – the reality was clear: A high volume of calls disrupted service in Boston.

This outage is yet another reminder to organizations that they need to develop alternative ways to communicate with employees during such emergencies. Otherwise, they could put their organizations’ continuity plans at risk.

For hours after the mid-afternoon, April 15 explosions, callers clogged Boston-area cellular networks, making it all but impossible for many customers to get service, a situation that’s not uncommon when such a disaster occurs. Hundreds of thousands of people who normally aren’t in Boston on a weekday converged into a small, geographic area, not only for the marathon, but also for a Red Sox baseball game at nearby Fenway Park and other celebrations for the distinctively Massachusetts holiday known as Patriots’ Day.

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