By improving the ability of their phone systems to withstand disasters, municipalities may be able to ensure a swifter disaster recovery process.

VoIP business phones could enhance COOP planning

While proper planning is an essential part of any continuity of operations plan, the city or town officials who rely on these tools to function when the unexpected happens may be able to better ensure the municipality's swift recovery by investing in the right services.

For example, continuity of operations planning often depends on expert communication, and one way that officials working for their municipality can ensure that the proper channels between citizens and town workers aren't affected by an accident is by investing in voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology.

In a recent article by Government Technology, for example, law enforcement personnel from St. Louis Park, Minnesota, detailed how they were able to overcome a stop in the phone services they provided by using high-tech phone equipment. The January 2 report explained how a construction crew accidentally cut fiber optic cables that stopped communications between citizens and the local police.

Had police in this suburb of Minneapolis been using older technology, the city's public safety answering points (PSAPs) could have been down for far longer than the 30 minutes officials ended up reporting. During this time, residents could have potentially been put in danger by being unable to access essential services.

Still, VoIP services can help municipalities year round, provided they then make constant updates to their continuity of operations documents with an experienced consultant. With more law enforcement agencies looking to adopt multimedia call centers capable of fielding correspondences made via photo, video or text message, experts suggest that VoIP services could play an even greater role in public safety in the future.

As a result, city and town officials need to make sure their disaster recovery planning is equipped to handle any challenges that could impair communications when it counts.