A natural disaster — whether fire, flood or hurricane — can take lives, destroy buildings, and leave a long path of destruction. Commercial and institutional facilities go to great lengths to anticipate and prepare for such events in order to protect occupants from harm and protect buildings and other assets from damage and destruction.
But for everything these events take away, they also offer maintenance and engineering managers something — opportunities to learn. Which measures worked in protecting occupants and facilities? Which didn’t? What weaknesses in preparation and protection did the disaster expose? What can we do better next time? The lessons of emergency preparedness are difficult, and the road to success in this area is never a straight line. But learning from experiences is essential.
The recent hurricanes that struck the Southeast United States are only the most recent examples of natural disasters wreaking havoc on communities and facilities. In her Management Insight column on page 6, columnist Laurie Gilmer recounts the 2017 wildfires in Northern California and the experiences of her and her co-workers in staying safe and connected via Internet of Things (IoT) during and after the fires.
She writes, “The IoT way of connecting enabled us to stay informed and keep working relatively seamlessly.”
The next step in emergency preparedness for facilities is to take the lessons of emergency preparedness, combine them with available technology, including IoT, and use the results to move toward resilience — the ability to quickly adapt to disruptions, protect people and assets, and maintain continuous operations.
The road to resilience is likely to be just as winding and challenging as the road to emergency preparedness, but Gilmer’s experiences and recommendations offer managers the opportunity to learn and eventually find their way.