How prepared are we to handle a major disruption of service across many platforms?
By now most have heard about the power failure that forced Delta Airlines to cancel flights and shut down its computer system for a period of about six hours on Monday, causing a catastrophic disruption to thousands of travelers across the country and on international flights as well.
Delta, which usually operates around 6,000 flights on normal Mondays, was forced to cancel just under half of those flights, and will continue to cancel flights on Tuesday as the backups of passengers and missed deadlines cascades through the week.
Estimates say the power failure of a switchgear, sort of like a circuit breaker, will eventually cost the airline tens of millions of dollars, but the true cost won’t be known for quite some time. Lost revenue from future travelers turned off by the experience will also cost the carrier, who has said it will provide $200 travel vouchers to those whose flights were cancelled of delayed by more than three hours.
Things like this happen, and although we wish they did not, it is difficult to project every scenario that could result in a similar situation. But the airlines are not the only ones that manage their day-to-day business by computers, which require power to operate. In fact, it would be hard to find a business of any size today that does not rely on computer data to operate.
Banks, financial institutions, retailers, and virtually every other business could one day face the same types of issues Delta is facing in servicing its customer base, and while, so far, these types of interruptions in our daily activities have been frustrating, but temporary.
But it causes one to wonder exactly how fragile is our inter-connected infrastructure in the US. Is there a possibility a chain of events could cause a major disruption, that could go on for days, weeks, or even months?