Are You Ready for a Transportation Collapse...?

Published: 2010-04-20
Last Updated: 2010-04-20 16:53:10 UTC
by Raul Siles (Version: 2)
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... I mean a big volcano ash cloud, like the one from the Iceland Eyjafjalla volcano, that is affecting Europe (and the whole world) since the past week.

If you are not ready, this is a good opportunity to learn the lesson, and plan for the worse. Review your incident response, emergency, and business continuity plans, and evaluate this kind of incident. If you were cautious enough perhaps you already included it in your plans, but more realistically, this type of event had a low probability in your risk analysis. Reality has demonstrated it is time to reconsider it, specially, with the threat of other nearby volcanoes starting to get active, such as Katla.

Having found myself trapped on the middle of the current European nightmare (news make it a a bed of roses compared to what it is really going on), and more specifically, on the main Paris airport - Charles De Gaulle (CDG), closed since Thursday night, while trying to escape I identified three scenarios for your people in this situation (from low to high based on its critical nature and range of options available):

  • Your flight (or travel plans) gets canceled on origin. Lucky you, start to find an alternate transportation method as soon as possible, as you will be competing with a few other people, but you have all your local resources available to accomplish the task.
  • Your flight gets canceled on destination (return flight). The situation is pretty similar to the previous one, although you will be more limited than in origin. In reality, for both situations, the success rate is based on how close was your flight and the cancellation event to the real problem. If you are one of the first being canceled, there is a much better chance you can find an alternate transport.
  • You get caught in transit. Moooove!!! You are competing with thousands of people trying to reach to the same (or other) destination(s). Once you are confirmed there is no chance of being there in almost a week, then the same competition starts to get back to your origin country/city.

Plan for the worse: In this case, the air transportation closure was surrounded by a train strike in France. The result was it became almost impossible to scape from the city. Rental cars were not available, and had prohibitive prices, in the range of the thousand of euros for a few hundred kilometers. There were no seats in the few available trains for 4-5 days. You can only be lucky and get out by road, catching a ticket on a backup coach long trip (hired for the occasion).

Do you have an adequate technological infrastructure to keep your business moving without requiring your people (or customers) to meet each other face to face (such as, videoconference)?

Is the available solution a valid option for those in transit, in the middle of nowhere, with low bandwidth Internet connections in the best case?

If you have suffered the current situation and want to share your opinion, send you comments through our contact page.

Raul Siles (
Taddong is comming soon...

UPDATE 1: Conrad reminded me (how did I forget? ;) that the volcano event directly affected the security community, as the BlackHat Europe 2010 conference ended up last Thrusday, April 15, in Barcelona, leaving a significant amount of security pros "hacking" their way back home all over Europe :)

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