The role of it-related disaster recovery in expediting the recovery from hurricanes in tourist-based coastal communities

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



While proximity to the ocean affords visitors and residents of coastal communities a unique lifestyle, the threat of coastal storms constantly looms, threatening the economic viability of these tourist-based economies. The executive director of community development for a county in a coastal region posed the question: What data needs to be backed up by the community? In order to answer this question, this study initiates a focus group discussion among construction industry experts from a hurricane embattled region. The transcribed discussions were analyzed using the content analysis technique. The results indicate that protecting data sources that traditionally are the focus of IT-related disaster recovery, while important, are dependent on the physical restoration of the community infrastructure. The physical infrastructure is likewise dependent on a wide range of data and information that, when readily available, drastically reduces the time, cost, and effort of post-disaster reconstruction. Infrastructure data and information, therefore, need to be protected in the same manner as traditional data sources. These findings indicated the need for a policy or ordinance mandated by the city or state that would require critical infrastructure data to be stored and backed up on a regular basis as new buildings, roads, and other infrastructure are built in the region. Also, such communities should have a disaster recovery policy to ensure the rapid restoration of data after a disaster. This policy recommendation strives for an ideal solution, and one that is not necessarily possible given the resource restraints of small, municipal governments. The hurdles of this policy are being addressed by integrating this problem within a joint business-engineering course and deploying student teams on-site. Students are tasked with identifying and gathering data as well as devising specifications for an information system that is protected against disaster and provides timely access to critical infrastructure data. Students are currently developing a pilot methodology and system recommendations to be presented during a city council. Both the students and the municipality attain favorable benefits: the former gaining incomparable real-world insight and experience, the latter gaining necessary technical requirements at minimal costs. This paper advocates the use of the focus group/content analysis method as a means to identify areas that create this type of mutual benefits. © American Society for Engineering Education, 2008.

Publication Title

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings

This document is currently not available here.