Disaster Scenario Design

ASA teams design scenarios to test a company's resiliency. Sectors where such tests might be most important include:

  • Telecommunications: ASA designs a year-long set of quarterly exercises that test the adequacy of a company's system load and access for employees working from home. We can also design tests for a company's online and e-commerce call centers, whether onshore or offshore.
  • Health: During the 2009 H1N1 outbreak, ASA worked closely with both public-health and private-medical providers to understand gaps in alert levels as well as distribution of medications to design new test protocols in the area of supply-chain providers.
  • IT and Energy: Though most large companies schedule annual testing of data-center redundancies and applications, such tests rarely include critical electrical providers. ASA brings multiple parties into such tests to detect gaps or flaws in operational assumptions.
  • Emergency Services: ASA introduces key private-sector infrastructure companies into government tests and training workshops.
  • Banking & Finance: Tests in this critical sector might utilize a scenario to test the resiliency of a company's branches and ATMs during a power outage.

Such cross-sector scenario tests, along with the analytical reports produced after the tests, have become increasingly important to federal regulators.

Background

ASA Principal Annie Searle was a member of the 2007 team that designed the Department of Treasury's three-week long pandemic scenario test that involved both regulators and 2,775 financial organizations. The objectives of the test were to clarify an understanding of systemic risks to the financial sector; to provide an opportunity for firms to test their plans; and to examine how the effect of pandemic flu on other critical infrastructure sectors will impact the financial sector.

This banking and finance sector test serves as a model for how to design a sector-specific test. That model has now been extended across sectors, so that problems like supply chain logistics can be examined side by side with (for example) absenteeism or telecommunity issues.