Best Towns for Business Disaster Preparedness?

May 29, 2007
New York and Houston top 2007 list

Forget about the "top 10 towns to retire in", or "top cities for golfers", how do some of our biggest metropolises rank in terms of business continuity and disaster preparedness?

New York apparently sits at the top of that list, following the release of survey results from the AT&T 2007 Business Continuity Study, which surveyed businesses in 10 U.S. cities. For Houston, maybe it's the proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and the annual threats that come with hurricane season, or that only New York City is home to the headquarters of more Fortune 500 companies (Halliburton is still counted in Houston, despite moving executive offices to Dubai).

The study sought the input of IT executives from companies with at least $10 million in annual revenue.

The AT&T study asked, among other things, whether business continuity was a priority. In Houston, apparently it is. Some 80 percent of respondents, mainly IT executives, said that business continuity was a priority, and a full 78 percent of respondents in both New York and Houston also have a business continuity plan, which in itself is pretty amazing, since being interested in business continuity is a long way from actually putting together a plan. IT execs in New York City also resoundingly answered "yes", when asked if they had a business continuity plan; with some 78 percent having one in place.

This focus on disaster preparedness is apparently a trend in Houston, which was surveyed in 2005 (before the tough hurricane season of Katrina and Rita). In that survey, only 66 percent of those surveyed said business continuity was a priority.

Of course, Houston and New York weren't the only cities that came across with some strong numbers. IT executives in Atlanta, which has its own fair share of mega-businesses (Coca Cola among them), are being good about updating their business continuity plans. Atlanta, like Houston, had 62 percent of respondents who indicated that they had updated their business continuity plans in the last 12 months.

What towns didn't have great numbers to report? That would probably be Minneapolis/St. Paul and Cleveland. These towns were consistently slightly below the national averages the survey set forth.

The most unsettling part of the survey was that while a full 70 percent of total respondents are placing a priority on business continuity, that means that almost one-third of IT executives at leading companies aren't making continuity a priority. And there's some indication that a government warning to businesses is falling on a lot of deaf ears. Only 41 percent of all those surveyed said they take action when the federal or state government issues a warning. Chalk that up to the unpredictable nature of weather events, or even the seemingly random Homeland Security "national threat level".

Based on responses the AT&T survey, which touched on business continuity plan, actions taken based on the plan and cyber security, here's how 10 of our nation's biggest cities ranked.:

1. New York
2. Houston
3. San Francisco
4. Boston
5. Memphis/Nashville
6. Atlanta
7. Chicago
8. Los Angeles
9. Minneapolis/St. Paul
10. Cleveland