Historic 911 Call Center Outage Could Happen to Any Business

February 19, 2019

By Rich Tehrani - Group Editor-in-Chief, TMC

Last week, the 911 call center in Fort Wayne, Indiana, went down forcing anyone with an emergency to call the non-emergency number.  The call system was quickly restored, but not before it caused issues across the state.

As you can imagine, it’s a busy phone line, and one that’s vital for people in emergency situations.  This outage serves as a reminder as to how important all computer and phone systems are in our organizations.

Outages can be very costly in terms of lives, money, customer perception, reputation, competitive positioning and more.  Every company needs to address the possibility this can happen to them.  Just because a business hasn’t had problems doesn’t mean it won’t.  Weather, earthquakes, hacks from an internal threat or external hacker are all things that have taken businesses down for hours, weeks or even forever.

Getting back to this call center outage, Statewide 911 board Executive Director, Ed Reuter, says Indiana hadn’t experienced an outage as big as Friday’s in the 51 years the 911 call center has been up and running.  It reminds us there is a first time for everything.

Virtually every business is worth protecting, yet companies tend to worry about outages after they happen.  This can be very dangerous, as the first incident may be potentially catastrophic. 

Every company needs a solid plan for business continuity, including:

  • Making sure backups done properly and tested frequently,
  • A thorough assessment of cybersecurity postures,
  • A discussion of who could attack an organization,
  • Agreement of what is worth protecting and how is it protected, and
  • Understanding what could happen if there is a breach.

The same principles apply to business continuity solutions, which could be put into action by a hacker or mother nature.  At a base level, companies must consider a UPS solution for important computers and servers, and possibly a backup generator, depending on the budget and business value of various systems.

Many business owners are focused on the core tasks of running their businesses and may not know how to protect themselves.  In this case, call in some experts to assist, even if you are just asking for advice.

 It is always better to have a plan and a business continuity solution in place and not need it than the opposite.

Edited by Erik Linask

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