Corporate Emergency Access System
The City of Cambridge has taken steps to ensure that businesses in Cambridge remain operational wherever possible in the wake of an emergency or disaster, by implementing the new Corporate Emergency Assessment System (CEAS). The city's partner in this is the Business Network of Emergency Resources (BNet), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to establishing emergency and crisis management solutions through partnerships between local government and business.
CEAS is a credentialing program that operates in conjunction with local government; the program gives companies the ability to access their workplace quickly following an emergency event that results in travel or access restrictions. By allowing businesses to initiate a reentry and recovery process as quickly as possible, companies can maintain core IT systems, preserve laboratory processes, meet regulatory requirements and secure critical data and records in the aftermath of an emergency; all with the aim of continuing the functions of business throughout or soon after a disaster.
“The best response to any emergency is to get the city back on its feet as soon as possible,” commented City Manager Robert W. Healy. “With this system, law enforcement officers can quickly identify CEAS accredited critical employees and allow them access to their business. In order to return to stability as quickly as possible after a crisis we need to engage both public and private sectors; the CEAS program enables us to do this.”
Controlled reentry should not be limited to utilities and governmental services but needs to include private enterprise as well, particularly the financial sector and other businesses required to support a reentering population. In many regions, the loss of certain business sectors can have a profoundly detrimental effect on the economy, as seen recently with the energy sector in the Gulf of Mexico. Businesses that recover quickly help limit the economic damage locally, regionally and even nationally. They also help to limit business failures, reduce unemployment, retain commerce, restore the tax base and enable the displaced to begin their recovery.
BNet’s CEAS program has already been implemented in four northeastern cities: New York City, Buffalo, Boston and Stamford, Connecticut. Any business can elect to participate in the program, paid for by participating businesses through a per card fee. Companies may designate a limited number of critical employees or contractors to receive a CEAS card prior to any emergency or disaster. This approach of ‘pre-credentialing’ alleviates the need for public officials to develop impromptu credentialing processes at their own expense following a disaster.
The CEAS program places the responsibility on businesses to manage their cardholders by identifying their critical employees as well as managing turnover and re-assignment of personnel. This allows the government to reap the benefits of the program without shouldering the administrative burden, whereas previously staff allocation and cost had been the constraining factors for government in establishing a pre-credentialing program.