Small Businesses Unprepared for Disasters, Emergencies

AT&T launches an online tool to help businesses improve disaster preparedness after a spate of reports show it lacking.

On the heels of several reports highlighting the perilous state of small-business disaster preparedness in the U.S., AT&T launched the Safeguard Your Business initiative to shine new light on the importance of small businesses being prepared for disasters and emergencies. The company cited reports from the Insurance Information Institute, which found up to 40 percent of businesses affected by a natural or man-made disaster never reopen, and an Ad Council survey that reported nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of small-business owners do not have an emergency plan in place for their business.

AT&T€™s initiative includes the launch of its interactive, 10-question Quick Check for Disaster Prep online tool, which allows small businesses to assess their state of preparedness for emergencies and disasters. The tool rates the business from a scale of 1 to 10 and offers suggestions on how businesses can be better prepared. It also integrates with the American Red Cross Ready Rating program, which provides a more in-depth assessment of readiness.

€œThe key for all of us, including small-business owners, to help recover and survive during and following disasters is being properly prepared,€ Jonathan Epstein, American Red Cross scientific advisory council member and developer of Ready Rating, said in prepared remarks. €œWe see this as a stark reality through the eyes of our local chapters and volunteers, who are on the front lines every day, dealing with the aftermath of tornadoes, hurricanes, fires and other emergencies.€

The telecommunications giant also released the results of the 2012 "AT&T Small Business Technology Poll," which found nearly three-fourths (71 percent) of small businesses feel it is important to recover computer data in the event of a disaster. However, just 31 percent use the Internet or computer network to send data to a remote location, an act that could safeguard critical company data. The survey also found that while awareness of cloud computing technologies is growing€”91 percent of those polled have awareness of cloud services, up from 68 percent a year ago€”use of them remains relatively low, at 37 percent, compared with 33 percent a year ago.

€œAT&T has a longstanding commitment to business continuity and disaster preparedness on behalf of our customers,€ Cathy Martine, AT&T€™s executive vice president of small-business solutions, said in a press statement. €œToday we€™ve taken it to the next level for small businesses, which represent the fabric of the U.S. economy, by offering free resources to help them prepare for emergency situations. This is critical, because when small businesses sneeze, the whole country catches a cold.€