Continuity of government or ‘government resilience’ - the ability to cope with any network disaster - safeguards revenue, protects staff and encourages confidence. In some cases, a government resilience plan will be a statutory requirement and, done properly, can add value to the day-to-day operations of any public sector organisation.
For local government, resilience regulations are not as stringent as in, say, the banking industry, yet the implications of network failure are still pretty horrific. A single communications network entails significant and prolonged risk. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and other catastrophes have placed the spotlight firmly on the security and robustness of government institutions.
Many of our council and emergency services customers benefit from multiple connections, so that, in the unlikely event of one connection going down, services can simply divert to the backup. Stability, scalability and availability underpin the entire communication process, as when facilitating emergency and enquiry calls, for example. As we have our own Next Generation Network stretching across the UK, we don’t need to rely on BT. This means we can offer an independent alternative, providing true network backup that strengthens government resilience.
Ethernet networks address the question of scalability, as bandwidth can be increased quickly at the customer’s request. West Midlands police, the UK’s second biggest police force, uses our Metro Ethernet VPN (Virtual Private Network) solution, to link all 120 sites in the region, ensuring scalable and reliable bandwidth to meet its needs both now and in the future. Councils and emergency services equipped with Ethernet can ramp up their bandwidth capabilities to respond to peaks in citizen enquiries or to cope with increased data traffic diverted from other sites.
And here’s the key: government resilience isn’t just about a back-up in case a line goes down, it’s about total support in the event of the unforeseen, including the flexibility to add further equipment or bandwidth to meet unexpected traffic peaks and other issues.
In the event of a disaster, an Ethernet or IP (Internet Protocol) VPN enables organisations to centralise their IT and replicate data from whichever site they choose. Citizens’ enquiries can be answered immediately while local council employees can work from home and log onto a secure network. And authorities and citizens alike needn’t be left in the dark if things unexpectedly go wrong.
How can you toughen up your government resilience plan?
There are three key elements to preventing prolonged downtime in the event of a disaster:
- Resilience: Preventing the WAN (Wide Area Network) from becoming compromised means establishing two back-up paths to sites holding critical data or applications. This would guarantee up-time should, say, a JCB in the council car park inadvertently dig up your fibre optic link instead of a broken drain.
- Security: Private lines safeguard against loss of data in transit, while advanced firewalls and encrypted data add a further layer of security for traffic on WANs not using private lines. Protected data storage is similarly vital. So it’s a good idea to back up company information on a regular basis and store it off-site – ensuring business as usual even when disaster hits.
- Intelligence: Organisations need management tools that give visibility of network traffic in order to prevent service dropouts and to rebuild damaged data paths quickly in the event of an emergency.
Many organisations underestimate the risk of a disruption in telecommunications. By conducting a business impact analysis you’ll find out just how vulnerable your organisation may be. Working with your service provider can also identify any weaknesses, allowing you to devise a suitable strategy of network resiliency, security, scalability and failover solutions. The practicalities and financial burden your plan may incur in the short term are the core challenges facing IT decision-makers.
The effect of prolonged downtime or loss of private data can be damaging for council and citizens alike. So it’s always best to prepare for the worst, even if the worst never happens.
How we can help
Take a look around our site at the products on offer. In particular, you might want to browse our VPN Solutions portfoilo and understand how we're able to connect your offices and buildings through our Site-to-Site connectivity solutions.