College of Houston Continuity of Operations Plans Praised by State of Texas

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The College of Houston’s elite continuity of operations plans proved particularly helpful throughout historic Winter Storm Uri.

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In February 2021, Winter Storm Uri introduced elements of the US to a standstill. Over 120 million Individuals have been positioned below winter storm warnings by The Nationwide Climate Service.

The winter storm brought about energy grids to fail throughout a lot of the nation, resulting in blackouts for five.2 million houses and companies — the overwhelming majority of which have been in Texas. It’s estimated that of the 276 individuals who died, 246 have been in Texas — a state largely ill-equipped to deal with extreme winter climate.

Throughout the storm, Ginger Walker, director of emergency administration on the College of Houston, was tasked with defending the campus’ inhabitants and property (2:15). Two of the largest challenges have been the storm’s affect on the campus’ crucial infrastructures and restricted state sources as a result of storm’s widespread affect. Walker and her group additionally needed to think about the affect on college students and college who weren’t on campus (7:48).

“We have been beginning to get stories within the EOC of remoted energy outages, and our HVAC system that controls the temperatures began impacting our computing heart,” mentioned Walker, a 2022 Campus Security Director of the Yr finalist. “The computing heart needed to shut down for a time period in order that they may truly construct it again. That computing heart not solely impacts the oldsters on campus but it surely impacts those that are working remotely.”

Different challenges included defending livestock within the campus’ animal care facility, entry to restrooms, lack of warmth, and meals and water storage.

The Campus Security Director of the Yr Awards acknowledges the perfect and brightest executives in hospital, college and college safety, regulation enforcement and emergency administration. The 2022 winners will probably be introduced at this 12 months’s Campus Security Convention East, taking place June 20-22 in Bethesda, Maryland. For extra data and to register, go to CampusSafetyConference.com.

Texas State Workplace of Threat Administration Laudes College of Houston’s COOP

A lot of the college’s profitable response to the storm will be attributed to its numerous continuity of operations plans (COOP) (35:21). They’ve been used for each storm and proved particularly helpful throughout Uri and Hurricane Nicholas, which hit the state simply seven months later.

Walker and her group have run the college’s continuity of operations planning program since its inception. Utilizing a template created by her group, every division establishes a COOP, after which the overarching divisions and schools full a plan based mostly on them. All of that data is then used to create the college’s “H” plan, “the massive one,” as Walker calls it, which is become the state of Texas. It’s a large endeavor because the college is made up of over 200 departments and greater than 25 schools.

On a number of events, the State Workplace of Threat Administration (SORM) has acknowledged the plan’s resilience and its means to permit operations to renew shortly. In 2021, Walker introduced at SORM’s Continuity Council Summit the place she educated different state businesses on the right way to construct a COOP from the bottom up.

Whereas arduous, these plans are completely definitely worth the time and vitality since they can be utilized in non-emergencies.

“Continuity generally is a little little bit of a troublesome activity to have people full as a result of they really feel, ‘Oh, it’s extra paperwork.’ However ultimately, I attempt to present them that that is important to their program itself and never only for an emergency. It’s good for his or her each day ops,” Walker mentioned. “You don’t know once you personally is probably not out there. And in case you’re not out there, there is probably not an emergency occurring, however there could also be different issues which are taking place that pull you out of your program, and in the event that they pull you out of your program, different individuals must step proper on in.”

Walker additionally reminds division heads and researchers that continuity plans are a good way to advertise their program when making use of for federal grants.

“For those who share with federal businesses that you’ve got a continuity plan, they’re extra apt to say, ‘Oh, you’re going to do all the pieces in your energy to keep up operations always,’ and we would like that,” mentioned Walker. “We’re dropping cash if we’re not sustaining these crucial applications or practices or analysis or simply day-to-day ops. If we don’t do this, then we’re actually not doing what we actually must do. All of these crucial infrastructure objects are wanted to care for our precedence — which is the scholars.”

Walker additionally touched on:

  • Findings from the Winter Storm Uri after-action report (15:04)
  • How new insurance policies and procedures put in place following Uri helped throughout Hurricane Nicholas (26:34)

Watch our full interview right here or pay attention on the go on Apple or Spotify.

 

In regards to the Creator

Amy Rock, Senior Editor

Amy is Campus Security’s Senior Editor. Previous to becoming a member of the editorial group in 2017, she labored in each occasions and digital advertising.

Amy has many shut family members and buddies who’re academics, motivating her to study and share as a lot as she will about campus safety. She has a minor in training and has labored with kids in a number of capacities, additional deepening her ardour for protecting college students secure.

In her free time, Amy enjoys exploring the outside along with her household.

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