Continuity of operations planning continues to be an ongoing problem.

Mayors discuss the impact of continuity of operations planning

At the forefront, residents may think that government officials know what to do in the face of the storm, but in fact, many communities do not have their own continuity of operations plan in place. Often times, the need for a strategy is understood only after a disaster has taken place, which can cost uprepared municipalities millions of dollars.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu discussed these concerns during the Rockefeller Foundation's "Innovation Forum." When New Orleans was bouncing back from Hurricane Katrina, his decision to consolidate districts wasn't popular, but it was important to establish schools where they needed to be, not to "where they were."

He and other mayors from Columbia, Senegal and Oakland, California participated in a panel on how a customized action plan can help officials prepare themselves for location-specific problems.

"When disaster happens, you want security, you reach back to what was," Landrieu added. "But that's not always the best thing to do."

In addition to reorganized schools, the Louisiana city now has more small health care centers, allowing practitioners to be more readily available than would be the case with one central hospital.

Dakar's continuity of operations problem

Over in Dakar, Senegal, ongoing droughts have led the region's population to become more concentrated in the 32-square mile city. Mayor Khalifa Sall is working on ways to develop more jobs for these citizens and ensure that the proper facilities are available in the city.

Sall explained that the city is spending millions of dollars to develop bazaars to sell goods, as well as schools and medical centers.

How can a continuity of operations plan help

In order for residents and business owners to continue completing day-to-day tasks, the towns and cities that they live in need to be prepared for every scenario. It could be something minor like seasonal rain storm or a snow storm, or something as rare as Typhoon Haiyan — business continuity consultants can help develop a plan that enables governments to get through such events.