Answer

Making mobile command trailers part of telecom disaster recovery plans

We're trying to develop a telecommunications disaster recovery plan in the event of a natural disaster, and we're considering building a mobile command trailer. What are the pros and cons of building a mobile command trailer, and what else should we focus on when thinking about telecom disaster recovery planning?

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My assumption is that you are talking about a trailer from which you can coordinate communications in a time of emergency, like a mobile command-and-control truck. Such a facility is nice to have since it can effectively jump-start the process of tying together emergency response activities, acting as a relay center for communications of various sorts. It also can provide a location where coordination planning can be conducted face-to-face.

It is important to understand, though, that such a trailer facility is not a standalone solution—at least, not for any protracted length of time.

Usually these trailers serve as the focal point for various activities and consequently must also be provided with a relatively stable source of electricity, contain living facilities for personnel assigned to work in the command post and include various other support logistics, such as food and water. The idea is that the mobile command post may be able to be self-sufficient for a short period of time, but in longer disasters, it will essentially form the nucleus of a larger operation.

Additionally, when building a portable command facility, some thought must be given to the nature of the disasters that will be supported. If the trailer is road-transportable only, something like an earthquake that could damage all of the roads might render it unusable. In such a case, an air-transportable facility might be a better choice, but will probably be designed differently (it might have to be lighter, for example).

Ultimately, a trailer will be part of some sort of over-reaching disaster plan. It must, therefore, be justified in terms of the kinds of disasters that need to be mitigated and the context of that mitigation. Such a portable facility will not be a panacea, but will be preconfigured to handle a specific set of disaster scenarios. It must be deployed with the expectation of deploying additional support once the initial response has been achieved.

Have a question for Mike Jude? Send an e-mail to editor@searchtelecom.com.

This was first published in April 2011

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