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Disaster Avoidance

Emergency worker with radio

Clackamas County supports a large array of critical services to support the citizens, businesses and other public agencies of the County — including public safety, heath, emergency services, roads, communications and many other services. It is critical these services be available, during both normal periods of service and emergencies. Technology Services supports almost all the technology needs for these critical services including phones, data, systems and applications. As with any professional technology services operation, TS has multiple layers of disaster recovery methodologies as part of the overall County Business Continuation Plan (BCP) – of which Disaster Avoidance (DA) is built in . However, as TS coordinated the County’s next generation of Disaster Recovery and Continuation of Operations Planning (COOP) – it became clear a new approach to the overall architecture of technical service was required that combined service performance with an integrated holistic design incorporating Disaster Avoidance from all levels.

The problem is obvious to any agency trying to develop a Disaster Recovery plan – there are just too many possible event scenarios to plan – or fund. Some of the issues Clackamas County had to take into account

DR by DA

Bottom line, while having a solid BCP is critical, planning for every possible contingency is both impossible and inefficient. Taking the principle of “The best disaster recovery plan is to avoid the disaster” to the next level, the County initiated an large ongoing program to avert as many technology related disasters as possible by designing disaster avoidance into all levels of technical infrastructure and services. As with disaster recovery, the wide range of disaster avoidance options are too great to plan for all possibilities. Therefore TS analyzed the range of critical services and most likely events to develop a “Pyramid of Events” that categorizes the events into levels of impact. This allows TS and the County to design disaster avoidance around these levels — from a high degree of probability with have minimal service impact up to those that there is almost no probability of available services — and all levels in between. Using this pyramid, TS has designed disaster avoidance into overall technical design to cover as much of the pyramid as possible, and with estimated times of recovery. This allows TS to design reliable services and budget for them — and the County to design the County BCP planning around which events they can expect some level of technical services, and which events not to plan on services.

While disaster avoidance is a key part of all critical technical design, TS took this beyond a secondary consideration. Disaster avoidance is a primary design element at all levels of TS service and infrastructure, even at the initial business analysis of any requested service or application we ask ourselves, "how do we keep this service available?" This has led to changes in the architecture of all services, standardization of many of the systems, adoption of several new technologies such as virtualization, and an ongoing philosophy of disaster avoidance as a service mandate. With this design premise adopted, recent technology implementations and upgrades in the County have applied disaster avoidance in all levels of design. This includes a recent total redesign of the County’s network infrastructure, the move to virtual servers and storage, upgrades to operational centers, completion of the County fiber infrastructure, change in all equipment procurement, design of all applications, system monitoring and analysis into other options and services to further enhance the reliability and availability of County technical services. This has already had a significant impact of the reliability of County services. Events ranging from a simple component failure to equipment failure have become almost non-impacting to services. Events of larger scope such a communications failure or a building loss is no longer catastrophic with services designed to utilize redundant options. Even large events such as earthquakes, are expected to have quicker recovery of services as this process has, and is continuing to, design new ways to efficiently provide for alternative service solutions.

Next Steps

Disaster avoidance, as well as overall Business Continuation Planning, is an ongoing process that TS will continue to evolve as the County becomes even more dependent on critical services and technology provides for new potential solutions. As this process expands and grows, some of the next steps already in development include:


 With the implementation of disaster avoidance designs and policy, services have already improved and BCP planning has incorporated the new service level expectations :

 To support the technology needs of the County – incorporating DA design, TS utilizes the following:

Additional Information:

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Technology Services

Phone number 503-655-8322
Address 121 Library Court
Oregon City, OR 97045
Hours Monday to Thursday
7 a.m to 6 p.m.