Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Initiatives

National Emergency Management Accreditation

The City has applied for accreditation and completed the on-site assessment for the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP). At the conclusion of the on-site assessment the City was found compliant with all 63 standards and is awaiting official approval of that accreditation from the EMAP Commission later this month.

Emergency Notifications - Alert Boston

Boston continues to deploy a cloud-based state of the art alert  system, Alert Boston. Alert Boston allows citizens to sign up to receive emergency alerts via cell phone, work phone, text message, email, home phone and more. We continue to expand the applications, this year the City added street closures and trash pickup cancellations to the system. Boston uses Everbridge software, a robust and comprehensive emergency notification system.

Emergency Management & Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP)

The City of Boston’s Emergency Management department oversees long-range disaster planning citywide and oversees departmental preparedness efforts as well. As part of a city-wide preparedness exercise, DoIT completed as assessment and developed its own Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP). In the event of an emergency, DoIT is prepared to implement a COOP plan and ensure that City services will continue to operate and mission critical applications will be available.

DoIT COOP Plan

Our plan includes a comprehensive review of all applications and infrastructure managed and supported by DoIT. Systems have been categorized by Mission Essential functions. Mission essential functions are those activities and services that enable the Department to provide for the health and safety of employees and visitors, support the Department’s mission, and preserve and protect the assets. In the case of an emergency, DoIT will focus on maintaining services identified as mission essential functions to ensure vital services are provided to the citizens of Boston. The COOP document has been circulated to all DoIT employees and posted on the department’s intranet site. Formal training on the plan’s aspects will be conducted in 2013.

Business Continuity & Co-location

Our co-location space is now part of our daily operations. We continue to expand our use of the space and are actively building backup infrastructure for critical City services. The space is fully equipped with servers, storage and network capabilities. Given the reliability of the colocation facility, Public Safety Departments have also moved equipment into this facility. In 2013, the Colocation will be the site of the new CAD system back-up. Furthermore, the City is in the process of working with the Boston Public Library to house equipment to back up their new integrated library system and storage.

DoIT has made improvements to remote access for city employees, to ensure they have access to our mission critical systems. In cooperation with the Commonwealth, we have deployed ASTRO25 Master Site Zone Controller to improve interoperability between state and local partners.  The system creates the backbone to allow for the migration from a circuit switched infrastructure to pure IP based infrastructure.

Public Safety Updates – CAD, BoNet, and Police

We have an ongoing project to replace our 20 year old Computer aided dispatch system. This system will be geo-spatially enabled using location information based on the City’s Street Address Master File. This will improve response of emergency responders; all addresses will be validated against the City’s Master Address listing.

The Fire Department, in cooperation with DoIT has a capital improvement project to provide emergency power at all the city’s Fire Stations. The Fire Stations are an integral part of BoNET. Ensuring sufficient and robust emergency power is a key focus area to provide reliable and resilient network connectivity. 

During the last year, capacity for the power distribution units (PDU) at the Police Department data center was increased to better prepare for growing needs. As part of the construction work, it was discovered that not all equipment was supported by redundant power. Should anything happen to one of the PDUs, some equipment had no alternate means for electrical power to maintain service delivery. With the electrical upgrade, redundancy was planned for every equipment cabinet, such that each cabinet now connects to both PDUs.

As part of the electrical upgrade, it provided BPD an opportunity to fully test the process of shutting down the data center and restoring services at its backup location. DoIT coordinated the shutdown event and all preparation efforts. The shutdown event involved not only DoIT resources, but resources from BPD, EMS, BFD State 911 and Verizon. To successfully achieve shutdown and yet maintain 911 services, the backup center at BFD Fire Alarm was thoroughly tested prior to the shutdown event.  At the conclusion of the event, BPD now owns a complete process document detailing various shutdown and restore requirements. Should there ever be an unforeseen outage, BPD is in a much better position to respond and provide sustained 911 services.