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If Ebola's a problem here, just imagine it in India

Patrick Thibodeau | Oct. 30, 2014
Indian cities have the same kind of density that has allowed Ebola to spread rapidly through Monrovia, Liberia, and Freetown, Sierra Leone, along with slums, sanitation problems and poor population-to-physician ratios, making it difficult to track cases.

Craig Wright, a partner at outsourcing consulting firm Pace Harmon, said that a valid response to any such Ebola outbreak would be similar to a tsunami, "where access to facilities and resources within a region may be denied for an extended period of time."

But unlike a pandemic plan that calls on workers to deliver services from their homes, "this is not an assured model for an Ebola-infected area," said Wright. To remain effective, organizations must consider relocating service delivery centers to unaffected areas, he said.

Scott McPherson, the CIO of the Florida House of Representatives who has also been involved in state pandemic planning, said the real dangers continue to be influenza, the MERS coronavirus, Dengue Fever and a list of other diseases.

Ebola may bring pandemic planning for IT back onto the agenda, said McPherson.

Absenteeism is the big issue, and some of it can be triggered by decisions to close schools. "We have already seen an unwarranted overreaction by some schools due to hysteria about Ebola," said McPherson.

Some things have changed since the earlier flu scares. It is easier today for support staff and developers to work from home, and IT organizations are turning to cloud services "as a force multiplier in an emergency." But there's no certainty those services won't be impacted, he said.

"If enough of those men and women get sick, or worse, the cloud will suffer mightily," said McPherson.

A major part of the impact from Ebola, in human and economic terms, is coming from the ripple effects. Sierra Leone and Liberia may have zero growth next year, and "these countries just can't afford it all," said Schroeder.


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