It would seem odd that nine months after Katrina and a month into this year’s hurricane season, the city of New Orleans doesn’t yet have a backup data center lined up to provide remote recovery of municipal operations and data in the event of another major storm. Apparently, that’s the case. Computerworld notes that the CIOs of Austin and New Orleans met last week to work on plans for a data center in Austin that would keep New Orleans municipal functions running in the event of a natural disaster. The city of Austin is providing the space at minimal cost. Work is expected to be completed within 60 days, said Pete Collins, Austin’s CIO, who met with New Orleans CIO Greg Meffert in Austin. Collins wouldn’t disclose the location of the data center.
The story says that “New Orleans approached Austin officials about four weeks ago to discuss the plan.” That seems an awfully late start, but New Orleans officals had considered other locations or even building their own center before reaching the deal with Austin, according to the Austin American Statesman. The city considered and rejected Houston; Atlanta; Jackson, Miss.; and Baton Rouge and Lafayette, La. as backup locations, Meffert said.
The relationship helps New Orleans, which will pay a fee of $5,000 to the city of Austin. But it also has benefits for remergency planners in Austin, according to CIO Collins, who said his team can learn from New Orleans what is essential for a city to function in crisis. “It’s a win-win for us,” Collins told the paper. “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It is critical for governments to establish these relationships before a disaster occurs. Having the data here will help us to help them. Knowing what is valuable to them will help us better learn what is valuable to us if, God forbid, we need to use it.”