[LINK] Maintaining services online during a flu pandemic

Tom Worthington Tom.Worthington at tomw.net.au
Wed May 27 18:05:25 AEST 2009

The Australian Government released a Influenza Pandemic Business 
Continuity Guide for Australian Businesses in July 2006: 

The guide suggests use the telephone, video conferencing and the 
internet to conduct business as a way to avoid meeting people face to 
face, even when participants are in the same building. However, it 
points out that demand for services may be impacted by a pandemic, 
for example demand for internet access may increase. It suggests 
checking the business has an adequate infrastructure, including 
computer networks and internet presence.

The Australian National University has released a revised ANU 
Pandemic Response Plan 
Like many such plans, this envisages a progressive reduction of 
organisation activities with all but essential activities being 
stopped. However, this is based on the assumption that educational 
activities require gatherings of people. Instead, education and many 
administrative services, can be maintained using telecommunications, 
while avoiding face-to-face gatherings of people, as recommended by 
the Australian Government.  Most staff and students can stay at home, 
but maintain educational and research activities online.

Some simple steps would be required, such as checking that procedures 
allow for distribution of electronic documents in place of paper 
ones. Some procedures for example may refer to requiring 
"signatures". This requirement can usually be met with an email 
message with the person's name typed on it, but where a higher level 
of authentication is required, submission via a password protected 
system might be needed . Staff may need to be issued with additional 
equipment at home and trained in its use. Students may need advice on 
what to get. Online courses would need to be checked to make sure 
they work on slower home links and ones overseas. Servers would need 
to be checked for capacity (as suggested in the government guide).

In addition to telephone and Internet services, educators can make 
use of broadcast and cable TV services, including in Canberra 
Transact, to provide content. In the event of a pandemic, is likely 
that a significant proportion of the population will be at home and 
looking for something to keep them stimulated. The universities and 
schools might make some materials available for this purpose.

ps: The ANU COMP2410 students have completed their assignment on 
designing a swine flu advice web site for Australia. This expertise 
is now available, if needed: 

Tom Worthington FACS HLM tom.worthington at tomw.net.au Ph: 0419 496150
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd            ABN: 17 088 714 309
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617                      http://www.tomw.net.au/
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Australian National University  

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