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News release


Natural disasters in Asia Pacific highlight the importance of disaster recovery

Flooding in Queensland, the earthquake in Christchurch and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan prompt companies to review their disaster recovery strategies.

SYDNEY, 15 September 2011 – The importance of disaster recovery planning and strategy has been highlighted by the number of natural disasters including floods, earthquakes and a tsunami that occurred in the Asia Pacific Region in 2011.

Marcy Hobbs, National Program Manager, Project and Development Services at Jones Lang LaSalle said, "In the wake of the natural disasters that have occurred in Asia Pacific this year, companies have started re-evaluating their disaster recovery plans."

"Disasters on the scale of those we’ve witnessed in Australia, New Zealand and Japan underscore the importance of preparation and contingency planning."

In February, Christchurch was devastated by a magnitude 6.3 tremor which destroyed 21% of the commercial buildings in the city's Central Business District, severely damaged the city’s infrastructure and claimed the lives of 181 people.

One of the largest companies operating in Christchurch, Telstra Clear, suffered severe damage to all six of its buildings in the city. The buildings were evacuated and given risk ratings by the New Zealand Civil Defence. Four sites were given a RED rating meaning that they had sustained structural damage and were unsafe to enter and two received AMBER ratings meaning that they were considered structurally sound but needed extensive repairs.

Through their partnership with Jones Lang LaSalle, Telstra Clear sourced and refitted 1,670 square metres of office space in just five weeks.

This was achieved using a "three-pronged" approach whereby leasing, project management and facility teams worked simultaneously to deliver the space in a short time frame and highly competitive environment.

Ms Hobbs said, "Instead of applying a traditional approach during the project process, our team implemented a three-prong strategy that helped to create a competitive advantage in sourcing property, labour and materials."

In addition, they established a Crisis Management Team composed of industry experts and leveraged pre-existing relationships and partnerships including Jones Lang LaSalle and Telstra Australia to attract resources for the recovery effort. They also utilized available communication tools including social media to confirm the safety of Telstra Clear staff and post updates and announcements on the recovery process.

Following on from the disaster and subsequent recovery strategy, the following lessons were learned:

Lessons learned from the Christchurch earthquake:

  • A crisis management team is most effective when granted authority to make decisions.
  • Firms should leverage pre-existing alliances and partnerships to attract resources for the recovery effort
  • The team should be flexible and creative in problem solving.

In Australia, flash flooding devastated southeast Queensland in December 2010 continuing into early 2011. Heavy rain caused an area the size of France and Germany to become inundated by floodwaters in early 2011 which crippled infrastructure and damaged major commercial buildings in Brisbane.

Lessons learnt from the QLD natural disasters:

  • Prior agreements with preferred suppliers for dedicated resources in the event of an emergency can reduce site closure times;
  • Placing essential services on stand-by where forewarning is available proved effective in bringing sites back to operational readiness as soon as possible;
  • A Social media strategy needs to be included in Business Continuity Plans, to ensure restrictions about employee use during business hours don't impede getting messages to staff in the event of an emergency.Social media proved to a powerful communications tool during the Queensland natural disasters, as organisations lost power, their servers and IT systems.

Australian Head of Project and Development Services at Jones Lang LaSalle, Kevin Hastings said, "The natural disasters in Asia Pacific have helped demonstrate the firm's capability in responding quickly on behalf of clients when these disasters strike, quickly restoring business operations to ensure any down time is minimised."

"The connectivity of our business means we can call on our Leasing, Integrated Facilities Management (IFM) and Project and Development Services teams and work together to compress timelines significantly for our clients in the restoration of their business operations," said Mr Hastings.