Disaster Management in Telecommunications, Broadcasting and Computer Systems / Edition 1

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Advances in communications technology continue to accelerate. To maintain the competitive edge in such a dynamic environment, today's managers, professionals and engineers can expect to be challenged daily to keep pace with the technical and oganizational issues, opportunities and threats surrounding the operation and management of any communications system. The purpose of this book is to enable these people to detect, understand, handle and control a communications system during a crisis.

- Integrated use of real-world examples.
- Numerous case studies illustrate how actual disasters are detected, studies, and successfully controlled.
- Delineates the procedures required for the smooth and safe operation of telecommunications, broadcasting and computer systems during a crisis.

Aimed at helping operating and design engineers, IT managers and technicians in telecommunications networks and broadcasting to meet the challenges they face in their endeavour to safeguard against disaster. Essential reading for postgraduate courses in electrical engineering.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471608127
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 5/3/2001
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 1.26 (d)

Read an Excerpt

4: Basic Principles of Disaster Management


  • Answer questions at the end of the chapter.
  • Comprehend the basic principles of disaster management.
  • Identify a disaster's symptoms and causes.
  • Get acquainted with types of disaster and the stages in their development.
  • Discuss how to begin analyzing disaster management vulnerabilities and capabilities.
  • Give examples of disasters that could happen at your workplace.
  • Describe the disasters that could happen at your workplace.
  • Give examples of how you would reduce the vulnerability to disaster at your workplace

4.1 Analyzing the Disaster

4.1.1 The occurrence of a disaster

The occurrence of a disaster indicates a technical, administrative, financial or security failure on the part of the decision maker. Technical and human-related disasters occur for many reasons.

Random management

  • Ignoring the importance of planning: this concept not only causes disasters but is also the main reason for problems leading to the destruction of the technical, financial or administrative capabilities of the organization. It greatly reduces the organization's capabilities to cope with and confront disasters effectively.
  • Ignoring the organizational structure: when the manager uses their authority improperly, bypassing subordinates, they are creating a dangerous environment in the organization, encouraging the employees to ignore their supervisors, as well as the rules and regulations of the organization, creating an excellent environment for disaster.
  • Lack of data and specific work orders: this means that each employee will create their own set of rules and regulations for doing the work, opening a gap between the management and employees, reducing the management effectiveness in predicting the occurrence of a disaster.
  • Lack of follow-up activities: if management is incapable of following up what is happening to monitor the actual progress and compare it with the plan, there is a risk that company objectives will not materialize. Moreover, there is a risk that corrective action cannot be taken in time to prevent the occurrence of a disaster.

Misjudgments on the part of the manager, professional or graduate engineer can be very dangerous; they can be attributed to these reasons:

  • Incompetence: when the decision maker's capabilities are not enough to allow them to take the proper decision, and they do not want to show their inability, they tend to take irrational decisions and enforce them through their authority, leading to disastrous situations.
  • Overconfidence: here the decision maker is confident that they know best. They also do not want to involve anybody else in taking this decision, leading to disastrous situations.
  • Misjudging capabilities: when a manager fails to appreciate the capabilities of their staff, they tend to underutilize them; they also lose their support when things go wrong, leading to disastrous situations.

Misunderstandings are major causes of disaster; they happen for two main reasons:

  • Taking decisions with incomplete information
  • Taking decisions hastily
Always confirm the validity of the available information to identify what sort it is. Are there postulations, opinions, viewpoints, inferences, deductions or facts? Even facts themselves are not absolute.


By not fully understanding the real content of the available information and its relevance, the manager tends to take decisions with incomplete or improper understanding, in a high-risk situation.


Blackmailers tend to keep information to themselves then they use it to coerce people at a later date. It is an unpleasant way to treat others and it makes it hard to investigate disasters then plan for the future.


Despair is one of the psychological and sociological disasters that affect the decision maker. Despair is thus one of the main causes of disaster. When decision makers are depressed, they lose the desire and initiative to work or develop new ideas; they perform routinely without any creativity. When a disaster is in the development stage, the manager who has lost initiative fails to detect the early warning signs and leaves it to develop into a full-blown crisis.


Rumors are one of the important sources of disasters. Perhaps there is a rumor that management has decided to reduce staff wages by 30% due to bad operating profits; this rumor could eventually lead to disaster. If the rumor spreads days before announcing the operating profits, it seems logical to the employees that the rumor is insider information about what is going on, and thus uncontrolled actions may be taken by the employees to safeguard their interests.

Power displays

Authority and power displays are two main causes of disaster. They stem from having no specific organization charts that put in detail the authorities and responsibilities of each department, section or unit in the company. Yet even when these charts exist, one of the dominating department heads may acquire some of the authorities of other department heads who do not use theirs. Thus it is the responsibility of the chief executive officer (CEO) to insure that authority and responsibility are carried out according to the company's organization chart.

Human errors

Human errors can be made mistakenly or knowingly. Training programs can help in reducing the incidence of human errors due to ignorance, but they cannot do anything about the other kinds of error. This is dealt with on pages 113-116.

Planned disasters

The concept of management by disaster, or planned disasters, is used effectively and efficiently by some managers and business people to achieve their own objectives. For example, when I was working in the Gulf countries as director of telecommunications, a wealthy real-estate developer came to the department requesting telephone service for a new residential compound of some 100 flats and several shops that he planned to build at a remote area in the desert. He was told he had to obtain a building permit from the central planning committee before his request could be discussed. When he approached the planing committee, they advised him to begin by planning the road leading to the site, and to contact the electricity and water supply authority to bring these facilities to the site at his own expense.

The real-estate developer ignored all that and began building the compound. When it was complete, several articles appeared in the local newspapers claiming that the government did not want to solve the chronic housing problem in the country since it did not want to connect the newly built compound to the water and electricity supplies. The campaign succeeded and water, electricity and telephone services were connected. The connection costs were borne by the government.

Conflicting goals

When there is no clear objective for the organization, or when the responsibilities and authorities of the top management are not well defined, many problems occur due to conflicting interests between the top management and between those responsible for implementing the decisions taken:

  • Decision makers are the people who prepare, compile and analyze the different information and data, then they extract the indicators needed to take the decision. Pressure groups (lobby groups) do similar work so they can influence the decision maker.
  • Decision takers actually take the decision. They are responsible to their shareholders for the validity and suitability of their decision, although they were not fully responsible for arriving at the decision, since the decision makers carried out the preliminary work. The decision taken is largely dependent on the decision taker's personality, as we will see later on.
  • Decision implementers are the executives responsible for implementing the decision; they have no say in the decision but they implement it in the proper way. The implementation process depends on the personality of the decision implementers. They may be enthusiastic or they may be unenthusiastic; this will almost certainly affect the outcome of the implementation.
  • Decision beneficiaries are the majority who will be affected by the decision; they constitute the environment and framework of the decision, whether they stand to gain or to lose.
Conflicting interests

Conflicting interests are a major cause of disasters, since each company looks for its interests, to maximize its profits, and in doing so one company may cause a disaster to another one. Companies with the same interests will gather together and initiate a pressure group to influence a certain decision, which they think is in their best interests. Money is spent, effort is exerted and the ultimate cost is borne by the consumer.

4.1.2 The symptoms of a disaster

Early warning signs often suggest there is a high probability of a disaster. If these signs are ignored, the disaster may be more dangerous when it finally occurs. Thus we have to monitor very carefully these early warning signs and interpret their meaning properly so that quick action can be taken to confront and solve any problems. Early warning signs, or symptoms, can be divided into several categories.

Technical symptoms

Performance testing
Before a product is produced or a telecommunication service offered, certain performance testing measurements must be made. If they indicate that the product or service conforms to the preset specifications then all is well and the product is offered or the service rendered to the customers.

When the tests indicate a divergence (even a slight difference) between the measured values and the design values, there is high probability that something wrong will happen. The main point is that any divergence should fall within the tolerance limits set by the designer; if it falls outside it, something must be done immediately.

The designer stipulates what sort of maintenance should be done, when, how and by whom. Failure to adhere to these instructions means that in the short (or long) term the system will fail.

Quality assurance
If the quality-of-service figures become lower than the standards to be maintained by the telecommunications authority, the subscribers will react unfavorably; they may transfer their custom to another company...

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Table of Contents



Purpose and Scope of the Book.


Telecommunications Systems: An Overview.

Some Common Interruptions.

Basic Principles of Disaster Management.

Designing for Disaster.

Service Recovery.

Options for Disaster Recovery.

Telecommunications Systems and their Vulnerability.

Safety Considerations.

Legal Issues in Disaster Management.

Case Studies.


Appendix A: Troubleshooting Transistors.

Appendix B: Troubleshooting Logic Circuits.

Appendix C: Troubleshooting FETs and MOSFETs.

Appendix D: How to Present Data for QoS Figures.

Appendix E: Paralleling of Broadcasting Transmitters.

Appendix F: Financial Turnaround at a TV Tube Maker.



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