December Newsletter 2006

Smoking Elephant
According to a front-page story in The Bangkok Post that cited Thai police sources, a Wednesday [15 November 2006] fire at Thailand's Social Security Office (SSO) "started in a pile of documents near a fire escape" and "consumed some documents left on the staircases."

This is the cached copy of the Post's story online. The story is apparently no longer available on the Bangkok Post's web site.

The SSO is part of Thailand's Ministry of Labor. The Labour Minister initially denied that any documents had been destroyed, but a Ministry of Labour web site statement later said that "some old documents" on six separate floors were burned.

The SSO's crisis communication plan could use some revision, I think. It also clearly needs a vital records protection plan: keeping government records on a staircase does not inspire public confidence in any agency's records management program.

I know of only one records management company in Thailand: Recall Thailand. If there are others, I'd like to know about them.
Disclosure: Recall is an advertiser on the Forbes Calamity Prevention web site.


Concrete Ideas
I attended the fifth International Symposium on New Technologies for Urban Safety of Mega Cities in Asia (USMCA) last month [November 2006] because, like most planners, I am interested in disasters: learning lessons from past ones, preventing future ones, planning to respond to the ones that will inevitably happen.

Sound dull? Check out these videos of reinforced concrete (RC) buildings on the world's largest shaking table, replicating the effects of an earthquake. Watch the clips (starting at 1:00 minute elapsed play time) showing what happens to a concrete column in the basement. Frightening.

More videos can be seen at the Hyogo Earthquake Engineering Center of Japan's National Research Institude for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention.

In the next fifteen years, the world's largest cities ("mega cities") will be in Asia, including all of the 4 biggest, five of the top 10, and 11 of the top 25. My thinking goes like this: where people are concentrated, there will be businesses, and therefore business risk - and therefore the need for emergency response, crisis management and business continuity planning. And that's what I do for a living.

Sponsored by the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) School of Engineering & Technology and Japan's International Center for Urban Safety Engineering (ICUS) at the University of Tokyo, the USMCA conference offered 15-minute presentations on tsunami and earthquake warning systems, remote sensing and monitoring technology, environmental impact modeling, materials science, and other esoteric topics. There were 66 speakers over 2 days.

My conference evaluation:

  • The organizers were eager, hard-working and solicitous. The venue was lovely. The session chairs watched the clock, and rang bells to warn the presenters when their times were up.
  • The quality of the presentations was uneven. Some were captivating (like the videos), some were read-the-PowerPoint-bullets-aloud dull.
  • USMCA might benefit by luring more private-sector participants to provide a dose of commercial reality. It will be companies, investors and business people who build the offices, homes and factories of the future mega-cities, not policy wonks or scholars. It makes sense to invite them to come listen, and to listen to their reactions.

     
Expert Joins FCP    
Mike Fullwood has affiliated with Forbes Calamity Prevention as Senior Advisor for Financial Institutions. Mike was Global Head of Business Continuity Management (BCM) at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC Bank) for five years from 2001 to 2006. He headed the bank's Incident Response Team and chaired the Crisis Management group of the Association of Banks in Singapore that planned the May 2006 financial industry disaster exercise..

Mike provides advice and expertise for FCP's financial clients who currently include Singapore Exchange Ltd, Alfa Bank Ukraine and Heng An Standard Life Insurance (China).
 

Mike spent 10 years at Deutsche Bank as the regional manager for Treasury Systems, and later Head of MIS at DB's Singapore Branch. He worked for JP Morgan in Europe and Singapore.

It is untrue that we plan to refer to him "Mentor Mike."


The Truth Is Out There
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And we do it in many of Asia 's languages. Without embarrassing anyone. And with much lower travel costs.

Contact Elaine Khaw at wendy@calamity.com.sg or Nathaniel Forbes at nforbes@calamity.com.sg Visit our web site at www.calamityprevention.com for samples of our work over the past 11 years. Or call us in the Singapore time zone (13 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Time, 8 hours ahead of London time) at +65 6324-3091.

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