'Until we replace our accounts, we're suffering'

The Security Center and APS get up to speed after Katrina
Thursday, March 1, 2007

NEW ORLEANS--"I go home every day thinking about what we would do if a disaster hit, how we would solve the problem," said Jeffrey Doussan, manager of the Security Center, located a block from Bourbon Street in New Orleans. "Every time we buy a server and add a product on, the first question is, 'How can we make this disaster-ready?'"
Comparatively speaking, the Security Center, bought by David Oreck of Oreck Vacuum fame in the early '80s, did not suffer extensive physical damage from Katrina. The financial loss was another story. The 84-year-old former Federal Reserve Bank building "took on a small amount of water in the basement. We didn't have a lot of things damaged, but we were still hit hard by the storm. We lost half our business--about 10,000 accounts," said Doussan.
Since IP-savvy Doussan came on board last April, the central has developed a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that will "allow us to operate under any disaster scenario: hurricanes, gas leaks, civil unrest, or even pandemic flu," Doussan said. For back up, "We have an option with IBM Disaster Recovery [with 20 sites nationwide] to go use their facilities, anywhere in the country."
And, "every aspect of The Security Center's central station has been overhauled, from the paint on the walls to the adoption of Bold's Manitou. We see security through an IP-based lens and are working to provide solutions to help dealers enter that world," said Doussan.
About a half hour out of town, in Metairie, La., Spencer Smith of Alarm Protection Services, (see "Big Easy rebuilds after Katrina" in the March 2006 issue of Security Systems News) has a similar tale of renewal. After half his central was blown down, "We really had an opportunity to overhaul the place, and that's basically what we did. If there's a silver lining, it's the fact that we have a brand-new facility," said Smith. "It isn't the way we'd recommend doing it."
Due to a dearth of skilled labor in the city, "We just got back in three months ago. We probably lost about 1,800 customers and have recovered only about 700 of our original clients. There's about 1,100 that just don't exist anymore unless they return and rebuild. Until we replace them, we're suffering," said Smith. Most of those accounts are based in New Orleans, where the National Guard are still patrolling and the "police are overwhelmed," Smith said. "We are seeing a lot of activity in reference to crime." APS plans to have a disaster plan in effect by July, before the Hurricane season starts, and has started a local back up network with other centrals in the area. "We have slowly been adding on new customers," said Smith, on a cautiously hopeful note. "I've said all along from the beginning, this is going to be a three-year process."