--> Gill Blog: July 2003

Gill Blog

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

In Conversation with James Howard Kunstler

When the worlds of business continuity and real estate strategy merge, convergence inevitably brings specialized disciplines, such as urban planning, into the discussion. I've long been an admirer of the work in this field by James Howard Kunstler, whose books on urban planning include The Geography of Nowhere, Home from Nowhere and The City in Mind.

In the week following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Kunstler and Nikos Salingaros wrote a paper titled The End of Tall Buildings which caught the attention of the global media. A lot has happened since then, and recently a plan has been tabled for the project to rebuild on the site of the WTC in lower Manhattan. We are very interested to learn from Kunstler how his thoughts have developed in the several months since 9/11 and what his take might be on the current state of urban planning for the so-called new normal.

Kunstler, a thunderous proselytizer of new urbanism, has a lot to say about the future of the urban landscape and living and working spaces. He is currently working on a new novel, as well as a non-fiction book about the end of the "fossil fuel fiesta" and other discontents of the 21st century, and we're thankful that he took the time to share with us some of his current thinking on urban planning as it touches on the concerns of business continuity planning and real estate continuity.

Sometimes controversial in his writing and always insightful in an interview, Kunstler gives us a few nuggets of his unique perspective on the future of urban planning in his thought provoking conversation with Gill.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

The Knowlege Network of Gill Research

A Quarterly newsletter, titled Real Estate Continuity has been launched and is available on our research page.

Next week, we'll publish the first of a regular new feature called Conversations with Gill, which will be added to our research from time to time.

Hopefully, this research page will become a useful resource for topical studies, analysis and professional opinion not found in industry journals.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Streamlogics Makes Sense of Multimedia Communications

As Gill brings together the best technologies for our clients, we align ourselves with specialist Advisors who offer unique solutions and add value to our core business, Real Estate Continuity. One of the Gill Advisors, Streamlogics enables organizations to improve communications in a cost-effective and reliable manner.

On May 6, 2003, we discussed the value of videoconferencing. This week, you will notice we have included a multimedia section on our research page that previews our new research papers. The platform we use is called TB2, a technology developed by Streamlogics. This platform really has to be experienced to fully appreciate its power and versatility. For the past several years, PowerPoint has become an organizational must-have. Beyond its obvious application in live presentations, it also can be used to create presentations that can be emailed to specific recipients.

The limiting factor of emailing a typical PowerPoint file is the recipients' inability sometimes to provide meaningful context to a number of muted slides if the received presentation is effectively presented on a one dimensionsal plane. Attachment size can also present a problem. Streamlogics' TB2 takes PowerPoint presentations to a new level. It is a platform that includes a presentation software window, a media player that provides voice or video of a presenter, as well as a resource center that allows the addition of attachments or links relevant to the presentation. All this is accomplished simply by including a web link in an email that takes the audience to Streamlogics, where the presentation is hosted. This really brings the auditorium to the recipient's desktop. You really ought to check it out to see how this technology could become part of your own communications toolkit.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Simple Awareness or Systems that Work in a Crisis

There are some lessons to be taken from the UK experience. A recent report in This is London, coming out of a recent Business Continuity Planning conference in England, gives us the following observations:

A London Resilience spokesman said: 'There has been considerable activity to promote the need for businesses to have continuity plans in place and to regularly test them. After 30 years of terrorism, London's key organisations and major businesses have tried-and-tested arrangements and a high level of preparedness against conventional major incidents. Considerable work is being done to ensure that such a level of preparedness is in place to handle any catastrophic incident.'

Rob Fountain, chief executive officer of Survive, the user group of staff responsible for the security and business continuity of multinationals and public sector bodies, agrees. 'It's a split community. Half the businesses from our surveys have some form of reasonably high-level business continuity plan in place. Most of the rest have a limited amount of disaster recovery planning,' he said.

'A lot of companies bury their heads in the sand and hope if it comes to the worst they will find a way round it, or that if there is a problem the police and local authorities will deal with it. But none of these organisations is in business to protect the reputation, the assets and the very existence of your business.'

Do some executives in North America similarly expect the government not only to protect them from catastrophic events but to restore their companies and even to ensure business continuity? Is planning for business continuity the responsibility of Homeland Security or the Board of Directors?

Monday, July 07, 2003

Impact of Interagency Paper on Real Estate Continuity

The Gill premise is rather straightforward. Given the new normal in which we now live, business continuity planning must broaden its scope and incorporate new components such as real estate strategy into its domain. Over the past year, we have carefully monitored the developments of a paper being drafted by the Federal Reserve, the Department of the Treasury, and the Securities and Exchange Commission that will serve as a business continuity planning blueprint for the financial industry in the United States.

The final version of the Interagency paper on sound practices to strengthen the resilience of the US financial system was released in early April, and it specifically discusses the issue of facility backup and redundancy (see pages 10-11 for specifics) "for operations and data centers that do not rely on the same infrastructure and other risk elements as primary backup sites". There are no two ways about it: this is a very important paper, and it will have a significant impact not only on the financial industry, but planning initiatives of large organizations globally.

Although the recommendations set forth in this document are just that, recommendations, we believe that the compromises made in paper over the past year and a half (to satisfy the greatest number of financial industry participants) will likely motivate many in the industry to adopt the major points that are set out. Given the importance of the US financial industry, we also believe that initiatives taken by US financial participants will likely motivate similar actions in the financial industries in many other global markets. We expect this paper to become one of the key drivers of real estate continuity.