The Business-Technology Weave

Jun 17 2010   3:02PM GMT

EMP: Electro-Magnetic Pulse – A Reasoned Discourse for DAPR’s Replacement of Standard DR Policies

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott

We’ve touched on the disaster of what’s happening in the Gulf of Mexico and with the ongoing tragedy of BP’s oil spill. We can understand that technology is enabling: For both good and ill.

On a smaller scale, many local organization’s have had sad yields of data breach, crashes of systems, and implementations that deliver the wrong products to business. The latter result in poor fit, unreliability, or flat-out delivery of products and services that are unusable. “Finished” projects are torn back open for a new (and expensive) stab at success. Technology makes deliveries of good and bad to the local organization.

Today, business challenges and demands are such that projects no longer meander to conclusion, with adjustments along the way. There’s almost a command to craft a timeline the length of an arrow’s shaft, and to shoot that arrow into an ever closer target to today’s date – for ultimate delivery of working, serving, solutions.

Certainly in large-scale projects this is happening: How else to explain a project to drill in a mile of water, in order to capture oil for use, only to have a disaster for which there is presently no recovery? There is not even a vetted plan.

Large projects with large deliveries need matching, LARGER, postures for prevention of bad outcomes, and pre-defined, tested, and extremely robust recovery means for the truly unforeseen. In scaling this idea to the local organization, all implementations and plans deserve adequate attention to possible pitfalls, so-called “unforeseeables” that become foreseens with proper imagination and attention – and thus valid preventions for bad outcomes.

In examining large scale yields of the extremely bad variety, there is one that delivers catastrophe to the local organization – that is, yours – and in fact all local organizations. It is Electro-magnetic Pulse (EMP). While we may consider it’s manifestation as a small likelihood – consider that no one thought the Gulf situation would manifest in the first place, and even when it did, in its earliest days people minimized the outcome. Further, in considering EMP and its likelihood, you might wish to consider that the U.S. Congress has had an EMP Commission for quite some time. (Sources: )

By examining EMP, it can help us to think critically within smaller, more routine, and even blasé projects. Fresh thinking will help you deliver with accuracy, safety, and surety. The CIO, CTO, IT Director, Network Manager, Programmer, etc., who can deliver with swift accuracy is a hero to business. Well, they should be in my humble opinion.


Our concept of Unrecoverability (from IDRU, as referenced in a couple posts prior to this one) aligns with some realities that have already emerged: existing means of accomplishment; the will of those who wish to accomplish it; and inadequate recognition of threat. Hence, there is no real definition, plan, project, and solution to thwart those who are working at this moment to deliver Unrecoverability. This lack of recognition, and the risk associated with it, falls not only on “government,” but also on each of us. So too will responsibility.

The easiest means of defeating a modern country – a country that relies on a Business-Technology Weave at the highest, lowest, and broadest levels – is through an EMP attack. This sort of attack could be something as simple as a scud missile carrying a single nuclear warhead. This missile need not be accurate for any specific target. It need only be detonated at a suitable altitude: the weapon would produce an electro-magnetic pulse that would knock out power in a region – all power.

Not only would some measure of a nation’s power grid be out, but also generators and batteries would not work. There would be no evacuation of affected areas: Cars would not work, and all public transportation would be inoperable. Even if trains, planes, and other mass transit were operable, the computers that enable their safe use would not be. This would be due to the loss of all electronic data, rendering all computers useless. There would be no banking, no stock market, no fiscal activity of any kind, and there would be no economy.

Hospitals would fail without power. There would be no electronic communications: no mobile phones, no land phones, no e-mail, no television transmission, nor even radio. There would be no refrigeration of food, which would quickly rot to become inconsumable. Potable drinking water would quickly be expended, and the means to create more would not exist. Fires would rage, since the ability to deliver and pump water would be virtually nonexistent.

No Federal Government would be able to govern – nor would any State or local government command any control over events. No police department could be able to know where events were happening requiring response. Priorities would be non-existent. The only actionable situations would be those in a direct line of sight. The Military would not be able to communicate. Hence, there would be no chain-of-command; no control. Scattered commands and units would soon begin operating autonomously in the vacuum.

The affected society, on all levels, would be sliced and diced into small groups and factions hell-bent on survival – the situation would be an almost immediate chaos. As we’ve seen during New Orleans and other disasters, breakdown of the social order is rapid and deadly. In this circumstance, it would also be prolonged, and possibly permanent – until the arrival of an enemy control. Imagine, if you will, a peak, sustained, Katrina/New Orleans disaster, coast-to-coast.

Ah, but there is hope for all of us. Let’s hope that the government, with this BP oil spill as a serving example for lack of plans and pre-defined assets, will learn and mount proper preventions.

Now that we understand what true “Unrecoverability” means, are there any “EMP”s or “oil spills” lurking in your organization? That is, something that – in scale – looms so large and comprehensive as a risk that, should it actualize, it would whisk away your business’ reputation?… your business’ ability to conduct and continue? It can happen and has to others.

DAPR: It’s time has come: Disaster Awareness, Preparedness, and Recovery. Last century’s “Disaster Recovery” is outdated; indeed its very name is reactionary. I often wonder if there should be regional Business Security roundtables with local government. After all, plenty of IT and business people are being affected in the gulf at the moment. Shouldn’t they have had a keen awareness for mile-deep drilling, its risks, and potential consequences? And… wouldn’t business and IT people have the best handle on risk, its management, and whether proceeding under those conditions, given the unprecedented nature of things, was prudent?  They certainly would with DAPR as their overriding guidance.

Come on along – we’ll continue to prepare as we meander through many topics in the coming days and months.

We’ll lighten up in the next post. Senior executives are being pressured to let younger workers utilize social networking sites not only at work, but for work. Good idea? Bad? I have an opinion…


June 17th: On this day in 1837 Charles Goodyear obtains his 1st rubber patent

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