Operations

Communications and Network Safety Management

Posted on November 1, 2010

I

dentify Critical Communications Components
There are many tools of the technology age that we have come to rely on for operations. These include telephones, two-way radio systems, Nextel or similar devices for phone/radio communications. We have GPS system, computerized reservations systems, and even automated phone systems. If one of these devices were to fail, what would the effect be on your business? To identify the critical technology used in your company, think about how your orders arrive. They come by telephone, fax, or e-mail. How you handle orders is the next vulnerable point. Whether it is a software system on an in-house computer, or an external system such as Limo Anywhere, the data must be safe and redundant. Last but not least is the dispatch system that connects the company to the drivers. Whether you use a two-way radio system, PDAs (Personal Digital Assistant), or cell phones, each are vital communications links that must be safeguarded.

Safeguard Your Telephone System and Fax Machine
Obviously the telephone system is the most critical link to our businesses. Most business phone systems today are computerized. There are precautions you can take to protect your offi ce phone system. Use a surge protector to protect the “backbone” or computer system that controls your phone. It is probably mounted on the wall near the phone line point of entry to the building. This entry point is also known as a “backboard.” The surge protector should have a jack for your telephone line. The line coming in from the wall plugs into the surge protector and another line will come out and plug into your phone system. Make sure you have a battery backup system on your phone that will keep your phone system up and running for at least an hour. There are systems that will power your phone for up to 60 hours if you are prone to long-lasting outages.

Handling Telephone Line Failures
If your local phone cable is damaged due to construction, fl ooding or other causes, you can use “Remote Call Forwarding” (RCF) offered through your local phone company for less than $5 a month. With RCF, the moment your phone line fails, you simply dial a local access number, enter the phone number you want your calls to go to, such as your cell or home phone, and your calls will be rerouted to that number. This can be a lifesaver even if you lose power to your building and your battery backup system dies before power is restored.

Safeguarding Computer Systems and Data
Every computer in your network should have a battery back-up system with surge protection and also anti-virus software such as Norton, McAfee or Panda Cloud (free). If you use a dedicated server in a network, this computer should have a battery back-up system suffi cient to keep you up and running during a prolonged power outage. Whether you use a server or a single computer system, backing up your software is important. If you lose your data, you lose your reservations and your ability to deliver service that you already have booked. You also may lose accounting data including records of who owes you money. It can be catastrophic if you lose any data. Along with performing daily (or even hourly) backups in-house, you also may want to consider an off-site backup system such as Mozy or Offsitebackups.com to have your data kept safe in another location. If your building is damaged due to fi re or fl ooding, you can remain in business by remotely accessing your data at the offsite location. If you do not use an offsite location, consider a “mirror drive” where everything you do on one drive is copied to a completely separate hard drive. If your drive or computer fails, you can stick the mirror drive in another computer and you are back in business.

Critical Communications Systems
Telephone
Fax machine
Computer/data
E-mail
Reservations/dispatch software
Two-way radio systems
Personal digital assistant
Cellular phone

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