Special District Leaders Have Some Concerns about DR


Recently, we headed out to the desert to attend CSDA’s Leadership Conference. The attendees were primarily board members, and while we didn’t have a lot of conversations, the ones we had were productive. The primary topic—was disaster recovery (DR), so I thought exploring this topic would be fruitful for this post.


Special Districts find themselves in a particular place regarding disaster response as they serve the public while mitigating impacts to the agency and the resources it governs.


Building resiliency is critical when it comes to special district DR response, along with using equally flexible systems. This concept is fundamental during our current climate crisis, where wildfire season has extended to the entire year. Organizational systems need to be selected and designed with restoration in mind.


While disaster recovery encompasses a continuation of a special district’s operations, from business processes to resource management, a disaster recovery plan is generally concerned with systems, data, and applications. When creating a plan, California Special Districts must also consider the three pillars of DR planning: the crisis environment they operate in (California = earthquakes, fire, drought), what types of resources they manage (power, water, sanitation, etc.) and regulatory mandates they are accountable to. They should also deliberate with whichever emergency management agency is local and how it fits into their plan. Every district plays a role. You may need resources, have resources, or both. These relationships will also be vital in sharing information before, during, and after an event.


Oh, and there are more items to consider.


According to Laserfiche, two further established thresholds must be met—RTO and RPO.


RPO (Recovery Time Objective)- quantifies the amount of data you’re willing to lose by establishing a minimum data backup point. The functionality of your backup systems plays a huge part in determining if you can meet an RPO. Cloud systems can replicate data in real time. Trusted Systems (of which an on-premise Laserfiche system is a part) can ensure data is housed in a safe location and that documents are instantly accessible.


RTO (Recovery Point Objective) quantifies the amount of time a system can be down before it causes a significant business impact. Not all systems should be prioritized equally. For instance, an online retailer will likely prioritize its customer-facing website over its Slack channel.

Disaster recovery relies upon replicating data and computer processing in an off-premises location not affected by the disaster. When servers go down because of a natural disaster, equipment failure, or cyber attack, a business must recover lost data from a second location where the data is backed up. Ideally, an organization can transfer its computer processing to that remote location to continue operations.



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