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What lessons can we learn from the Algo Mall disaster?
Disaster can strike anywhere and at any time. The month of June saw fires
in Colorado and Newfoundland, a tropical storm in Florida, flooding in British
Columbia and major storms across the Midwest and Northeast U.S.
However, the Algo Mall disaster in Elliott Lake, Ontario was the straw that broke
the camel’s back and captured my attention. Two lives were lost when the roof
of a small Northern Ontario shopping centre crashed through two floors of the old
Eastwood Mall on June 23rd.
There have been numerous articles published, and Wikipedia is full of reports
of structural damage dating back as far back as the early nineties; however,
the purpose of this article is not to debate who is at fault or how long structural
damage plagued the businesses located in the Algo Mall.
What I continue to learn from this experience is how important planning for
disaster actually is. June was the perfect storm for disasters, both man-
made and those delivered with an impactful punch from Mother Nature. I am
continually shocked by how many small businesses around the country do not
have a simple business continuity plan in place.
True, it is hard for a business to continue to operate when you have a few
hundred tonnes of structured steel and smashed concrete in the middle of your
store or when a tornado levels your town, but business owners are responsible
for taking the necessary precautions to protect employees and ensure the value
of the business survives the disaster.
Many innocent Ontarians are now out of work because of the Algo Centre
disaster. We only can hope that the business owners had the proper precautions
in place. If we went with the law of averages, many didn’t.
What can the IT service provider do to help safeguard the integrity of businesses
just in case another Algo Centre disaster strikes your hometown? IT firms have
a responsibility to clients to do whatever it takes to ensure the protection of
their clients’ data. But it doesn’t stop there. I believe IT firms have the perfect
opportunity to discuss disaster avoidance and business continuity strategies from
a big-picture perspective.
Lester Keizer, President of Xilocore, educated me on the importance of
discussing the big picture of business continuity, disaster avoidance and the
importance of recoverability. Not just data, but the entire business. Data plays
a critical role, but without the brick and mortar structure of a business, we really
When it comes to business continuity and disaster avoidance solutions available
to IT firms today, my recommendation is to trust in your peers and learn from
their experiences. BDR vendors will always tell you that they have the right or
best solution, but your peers will share their real-life experiences with you. What
works, and what doesn’t?
It is your job as the trusted IT professional to do whatever it takes to discuss
disaster avoidance, business continuity solutions and eventually recoverability.
The responsibility is ours as managed IT services professionals to share
experiences and make sure clients are protected.
Lessons can be learned from the events in Elliott Lake, Ontario on June 23rd.
Sure, we can point fingers at rescuers, politicians and the owners of the mall;
however, responsibility for a business starts and stops with the business owner.
Our job, as their trusted IT advisors, is to ensure that we help influence them and
in some situations, open their eyes.
Stuart R. Crawford