Recently, I attended a networking and educational event hosted by New York City-based public relations firm, Cocktails with Courtney. The group specializes in mingling traditional and new media; and this event focused on fashion and technology. The audience of hip denizens of Silicon Alley and me listened to the panel discuss how emerging technologies will become a part of the fabric of our everyday lives.
Technology is also fast becoming a way facilities managers and building owners can improve business. The issues of availability, including disaster preparedness and business continuity planning, have become more crucial in the light of the terrorist attacks. availability.com, headquartered in Providence, RI, is one of the websites dedicated to supplying information on heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC); power protection; physical infrastructure; and information technology. This vendor-neutral site offers research on business continuity planning for registered users, and plans additional disaster recovery articles in response to the heightened interest.
“We saw that there are so many areas to get information on different aspects of availability and we saw a need for a comprehensive, essential resource for information to save people time and money,” says Michelle O’Brien, marketing director, availability.com, Providence, RI.
The issue of availability was born largely out of the energy crisis in California, which led to major downtime and business continuity concerns for some commercial facilities. Major outages at high-profile Internet companies, resulting in significant loss of revenues, also spurred the creation of the website. “We’re a one-stop shop of availability information for busy executives who are interested in what’s at stake if their business is down,” says O’Brien. Over 50 percent of the users for availability.com are at the director or chief level, such as CEO and CFO.
The four major areas to focus on when dealing with facilities uptime are information technology, physical environment, people, and process. “These four areas are integral in the whole process of end-to-end availability. You might have your physical infrastructure at five 9s, but if you don’t have the people in place to run the IT department or you don’t have the proper processes in place, something is going to break,” says O’Brien. availability.com delivers articles and white papers on human resources, information technology, and facilities management. Facilities professionals are learning that all these elements have to be considered and evaluated together to achieve availability.
To detect weaknesses among critical areas in availability, the website provides interactive tools. “There are five reasons why people come to availability.com: They want to recover from a disaster; they need strategies to reduce planned and unplanned downtime; to improve service levels; to conduct downtime costs and analysis; and to learn about new availability benchmarks and standards. Currently, the website receives 35,000 to 50,000 users a month seeking new strategies to prepare for the future.
At that recent Cocktails with Courtney event, the panel discussed the future of the fashion industry and technology and its impact on our own lives. While present-day offers simple combinations of fashion technology, such as chic designer laptops, purses designed with PDA pockets, and suits tailored with lined cell phone pockets, the future promises much more – a T-shirt that can read and transmit heart rates, respiration, and other readings for healthcare and fitness applications.
Currently, availability.com has an interactive column in which experts answer questions related to availability issues. Its flourishing online community may soon be going offline with educational seminars from partners and research providers.
Can flying cars be far behind?
Regina Raiford (firstname.lastname@example.org) is senior editor at Buildings magazine.