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Strengthening Utilities' Resiliency by Effectively Communicating During Emergency Incidents

Interview With Lisa Hood, Manager, Business Continuity & Emergency Preparedness, Hydro One Networks Inc.

CHICAGO, IL -- (Marketwired) -- 04/03/14 -- The business continuity realm is ever-changing and in the past few years, the evolution has proven to be unpredictable and accelerated. With that, organizations are challenged to adapt quickly in order to sustain operations. In order to improve business resiliency, utilities must assess their capabilities to advance real-time decision making, while meeting the expectations for stakeholders, operational safety, and utmost reliability and performance.

Lisa Hood, ABCP, Manager, Business Continuity & Emergency Preparedness Security Operations at Hydro One Networks Inc. recently spoke with marcus evans about key topics to be discussed at the upcoming marcus evans 2nd Annual Business Continuity & Emergency Preparedness for Utilities Conference. As part of the marcus evans Utility Emergency Management Series, the meeting will take place May 13-15, 2014, in Chicago, IL.

What does your emergency response look like at a corporate level?

LH: At the corporate level, there are two main components, preparedness and response.

Under Business Continuity Management, all departments have an impact assessment completed each year to assess changes in criticalities, vulnerabilities and risk identification. Each department has a documented, tested and updated plan each year.

Continuity management is supported corporate-wide and a robust emergency response organization is in place, trained and tested each year, including immediate response procedures for all levels of staff and position holders.

How do you plan, implement and manage logistics during a cross-border emergency?

LH: Through an established protocol and documented processes created with input and approved by the border authorities in Canada and the US.

What strategies do you have in place to leverage communication between teams, crews, corporate, etc during a large event?

LH: Several strategies are used, based on the event. Primarily the use of email, telephone, conference call, physical command centers and satellite communications are utilized.

When a storm or disaster hits, there are multiple groups that are involved. What are some key techniques to effectively communicate to customers, regulators and public agency partners during an emergency?

LH: The main technique used is an established, documented and rehearsed communication plan which includes use of email protocol, conference calls and expertly staffed command centers. This also includes corporate communications, media and ministry communication links.

How has Commercial Border Crossing Protocols within the utility industry changed over the last few years? How do you see it evolving?

LH: In 2012, the Canadian Electricity Association and Hydro One led an initiative whereby border crossing protocols were reviewed for effectiveness based on weather caused outages and a call for support from our partners in the US. The protocols in place at the time were reviewed and amended to reflect the needs of responders and changes in border policies. Enhanced procedures were established and put into place across all bordering states and provinces. This allowed emergency responders (commercial traffic) within the electricity and gas sectors to cross securely and safely within seconds per vehicle, down from minutes in previous years.

In 2013 the Department of Homeland Security in the US accepted the protocol as the standard, and the new info kit was shared with both the Canadian and US authorities. In 2014 additional enhancements are being considered, and will be announced once approved by the border authorities in both countries.

After 12 years experience in Business Continuity and Emergency Preparedness in both the Energy and Financial sectors, Lisa Hood has developed recovery and response strategies for various divisions including global operation teams, customer call centers and vendor and supply chain management contracts.

An accredited Business Continuity Professional, Lisa partners with a multitude of companies and government organizations across Canada and the US.

The marcus evans 2nd Annual Business Continuity & Emergency Preparedness Conference will take place in Chicago, May 13-15, 2014. For more information, check out the conference brochure or please contact Tyler Kelch, Marketing Coordinator, Media & PR, marcus evans at 312-894-6377 or [email protected].

About marcusevans

marcusevans conferences annually produce over 2,000 high quality events designed to provide key strategic business information, best practice and networking opportunities for senior industry decision-makers. Our global reach is utilized to attract over 30,000 speakers annually; ensuring niche focused subject matter presented directly by practitioners and a diversity of information to assist our clients in adopting best practice in all business disciplines.

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