Authored by Chad Maniez, Sales Engineer, ImageSoft
Please note: this week’s blog is the copied over intro from February’s “Tech Talk for Government” newsletter, so the copy’s context is one week behind. The full read can be found here.
I’m writing you from the currently bruised state of Texas where my wife, children and I have been living in the eye of this unforeseen disaster.
Notice that I said “the eye” and not the heart – that we are currently bruised, but still fighting. I am very proud of my state and the strong people who call it home. They are the heart of Texas, and our comradery and spirit is what has kept us going amidst blackouts, unsafe drinking water, energy rations and all the other devastation we’re currently facing. We appreciate your prayers, as all Texans know recovery will be a process, but we will make a comeback soon with our reputable Texas strength.
If you’ve been following the news coverage about this storm, you will see a lot of finger pointing. Some outlets report that our legislation failed us, some say we haven’t paid close enough attention to climate change, and others blame the energy supply companies for not getting us back up-and-running quickly. Truthfully, I don’t know that there’s actually one, or any, single target who should bear all this liability – none of us saw this coming, and Texas’ historical weather patterns wouldn’t have ever predicted this.
Rather than further dividing our people, we need to identify and fight the root challenges. And the primary culprit, the common thread stitched in all the news coverage and exclaimed by our communities, is unpreparedness.
Most Texans, myself included, don’t worry about extreme weather conditions. We don’t have Florida’s history of hurricanes or Wisconsin’s thick skin for -30 degree days – if I’m being honest, we’ve operated from a place of “that won’t happen to us – we don’t need to think about it.”
And so, from households, electrical co-ops and utility districts, state and local legislature and beyond, none of us were prepared to deal with what we’ve been dealt. Working in the technology sector, I tell all my customers to budget and plan for disaster preparedness and recovery. I’ve heard incredible stories about government entities sustaining critical operations and reaching their constituents throughout the pandemic simply because they were equipped with the means to work remotely. Even in places of riots and civil unrest, where disaster struck of man-made consequence and not Mother Nature, people were scared and blindsided, but they had the tools to keep on keepin’ on amidst the turmoil.
So, to me, it’s very clear why this happened – not because of one person or one entity, but simply because we were not prepared for what was coming our way.
It’s been a few days since Texas was hit with the brunt of the storm, and the outlook every day is getting better. While I’m hopeful and relieved to soon return to some normalcy (not boiling snow water, for example), there are many, care-free operations I will not be returning to. My only ask in penning you this write-up is that we all take a page from Texas’ book and learn not only resiliency, but also to be ready.
Have you been, or would you be able to keep in touch with your constituents regardless of circumstance? Are their records and personal information safe when the electricity goes out, or the water comes flooding in? Can your staff maintain both their income and their safety by working remotely should threats of a pandemic or a riot close the office doors?
As this past year and, now, Texas have taught us, we need to ask these questions and find the solutions. If a winter storm can put up a fair fight with the tough state of Texas, anything could happen to your community too. Partner with people who have experience in disaster recovery and pool their expertise with your knowledge about what kind of operations, be it Cloud storage, centralized records accessibility, integrated work order systems, self-service options for the public, ESRI or others, your entity needs to withstand the worst of the worst. What, in your budget, is more important than ensuring the safety, strong will and withstanding of your staff and communities? This is one investment where the return is immeasurable.
Trust me, I’m living it.
To all my Texan readers: stay strong. I’m in this fight too – we will get through this. And to all our friends watching: thank you for your continued prayers and support.
From the heart of Texas,