August 26, 2019 (Lubbock, Texas)

End of summer brings a number of things to mind – back to school, Labor Day holidays, and preparing for cooler weather. It also brings on hurricane season, with tornadoes and flooding. Scorching summer heat may also bring a heightened fire season, which can whip through unexpectedly at any time.

Having a disaster plan in place is critical for local government entities – most likely multiple plans should be created to address different types of emergency events. Here are some pointers with regards to servicing your citizen-customers in the aftermath of a disaster:

1) Identify and Evaluate Critical Service Needs – Form an inter-departmental committee to arrange plans and identify critical services needed by citizen-customers
2) Write Out the Plans of Action – From the critical services list identify the following: If there is a total loss of building, where will services be based/housed
3) Communication – In the aftermath of a disaster, how will key (and secondary) employees communicate in the absence of electronic communication means; and how will the organization communicate to the citizen-customers

Critical Services – What is important? Keeping utilities and protective services (police and fire) available are usually the highest priority a municipal entity has.

Providing Critical Services – Do you have an alternate business location in mind if municipal facilities are inaccessible due to fire, flood or tornado? Possibilities include local hotel or meeting facilities, a mobile RV or other temporary portable facility.

Equipment – Do you have a plan for replacing necessary equipment to conduct business, including computers, printers, furniture, supplies, vehicles and other specialized equipment? You might think about entering into a partnership agreement with other local communities to co-locate and borrow specified equipment until replacements are available.

Communication is very important – if cell towers are down, is there a plan to bring in portable towers with generators to restore cellular service? In the absence of cellular service, do you have handheld radios that can facilitate staff communication? Be sure that those items are fully charged and have multiple sets available at various locations throughout your community. When municipal offices are unavailable, you’ll need to get these communication devices to critical staff members.

Protective Services – Police and Fire services have emergency management plans on file. Ask these staff members to share their plans with the committee for ideas and inspiration.

Information Technology – In the absence of electricity and internet access, you should have a plan for conducting business with paper receipt books and other means of tracking payments, for at least a day or two. With regards to records, saving copies of paper files to cloud storage is highly recommended to all businesses, including municipalities. Visit with your IT consulting company for advice on cloud storage. Make sure that your software providers have cloud-based solutions, and make the switch away from outdated local server-based solutions.

“A great disaster plan ensures that your organization is able to continue its primary function – to take care of your citizens,” says Brian Cook, the CEO of Fund Accounting Solution Technologies, Inc. (FAST). “Our organization’s entire business operation can be run from anywhere in the world with electricity and a reliable internet connection. Our goal is to help our own local government customers take care of day-to-day business in the same manner that we do, faster and easier.”

FAST’s Cloud ERP solution resides in a secure state-of-the-art data center with access from any internet connection. Upgrading to FundView eliminates the need for on-premise servers; updates and backups happen automatically, lowering initial investment and recurring annual software cost. FundView’s native document attachment feature stores your organization’s supporting records securely in the cloud.

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