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The benefits of drone deployment during disaster recovery are well-known. They have supported emergency response teams around the world many times - providing critical, real-time insight for faster damage assessments and faster recovery decisions. But drones can also be deployed during business continuity planning and exercising to great effect, says Kate Treen.

For businesses with structural assets, such as buildings, powerlines, turbines and physical infrastructure, an incident is far more likely to impact badly when business continuity planning updates for these assets has not been effective or frequent enough. Collecting accurate data periodically (and aiming to reduce recovery times) can significantly improve the effectiveness of business continuity plans.

Proactive maintenance, good relationships with facilities management and comprehensive preventative maintenance programmes all contribute to the effectiveness of business continuity and disaster recovery planning - so the relationship between planning and maintenance is key. If your facilities manager isn’t carrying out regular PPM (planned preventative maintenance) and providing you with reports for your business continuity and disaster recovery plans, it may be time to ask them. Where risk management, facilities management and business continuity work closely together, more accurate and effective disaster recovery plans can be developed.

This is where drones come in. Drones can bring more up-to-date, high quality data at a fraction of the cost of traditional assessment methods, particularly where assets are sited in hard-to-reach locations or access presents additional risk.

The insurance sector is realising these benefits. Following an incident, insurers in-the-know can link images of property damage (for example) with their risk modelling and underwriting information to make faster assessment decisions, and process claims faster and with more accuracy.

Drones also have a role in incident response. They can be deployed quickly and easily and can play a significant part in shrinking response timescales through rapid information gathering.

Including drones in live exercises to speed decision making could also pay dividends. If we consider that live exercising helps organizations to understand how robust their plans are, drones could go a long way to helping provide critical incident assessment information, with more detail and in shorter time frames than has been achieved to date. Forming an accurate understanding of the likely recovery timescales is crucial to business continuity managers, so the more accurate the exercise, the better the outcome.

As governance surrounding drone use matures, so the safe application of drones as data provider grows. Including drones in planning, assessment and validation processes therefore will make sense to those responsible for developing business impact analyses and maintaining business continuity and disaster recovery plans.

The author

Kate Treen is Marketing Manager at Sky Revolutions.

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Business continuity can be defined as 'the processes, procedures, decisions and activities to ensure that an organization can continue to function through an operational interruption'. Read more about the basics of business continuity here.

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