This spring has brought several events in which sections of the Seattle campus or the entire community experienced unexpected interruptions in our commercial power source. While these power outages lasted only a few hours, there were real impacts for several departments.
While many offices and facilities have Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) units, these are of benefit only to systems being actively used by employees. An UPS allows enough time and power to save all work and perform a safe shut-down until the main power supply returns to normal. In many cases, equipment powered back on without incident, though it still required staff & faculty members to perform a check for each piece of equipment once they returned to their workspaces. Even if no equipment was damaged, items & specimens under climate-control could have been lost as a result of power loss. How much are each of these items worth in $$, as well as time to be replaced? Can they even be replaced, in the case of research?
When your department was notified of a power outage (you were notified, right?), how quickly was someone able to go check on critical resources? If they were an hourly-wage employee, those wages can be added to the total “loss” your department accrued. At work the next day, any time or resources expended to recover from the aftermath of the power outage can be considered, as well. While individual employees may not have an easy-to-calculate wage to account for loss in dollars, you can still add up the amount of time used for recovery and report it quantitatively that way. If you required replacement resources before routine Business, Academic or Research activities could resume, the cost of the items and the time waiting for their arrival all factors in to your office or department’s total loss footprint.
Business, Academic and Research Continuity planning: It pays to prepare, but it costs to respond!