The verdict on city council disaster recovery plans: Good, but could do better


The good news: all of the UK’s major city councils have disaster recovery (DR) plans in place. The bad news: two in five will not have tested them within the past 12 months.

The figures come amidst a new Freedom of Information (FoI) request from disaster recovery specialists Databarracks, which found that 38% of city councils in the UK’s major cities are not regularly testing their DR systems. Databarracks argues this is more of an issue with public sector organisations; according to the firm’s 2015 Data Health Check, only 21% of large private companies had failed to test their disaster recovery over the past year.

Similarly, there wasn’t a consensus between city councils for recovery time objectives (RTOs); while some bodies could recover their systems within a few hours, others took up to four days.

This relates to previous research conducted by Databarracks which came to a similar conclusion. In May, with the General Election around the corner, the disaster recovery provider argued many councils in London hadn’t tested their systems in at least a year, and again offered wildly fluctuating RTOs for electoral data, ranging from 24 hours to two weeks.

Peter Groucutt, Databarracks managing director, argued the majority of councils were prioritising council tax alongside other business critical functions, which is a good sign – yet it wasn’t that way across the board, with one council’s prioritisation of ‘car parking’ being described as “questionable” by Groucutt.

Groucutt said: “The results of our FoI request exposed that a significant proportion of city councils had not tested plans for over a year, meaning that they cannot be confident in their effectiveness in the event of a genuine crisis.” He added: “It is encouraging to see that all city councils have thorough DR plans in place, but that’s only half the job.

“To guarantee effectiveness, regular DR testing must be performed and plans must be constantly updated.”