Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Phoenix - no surprises


A few years ago I talked to a guy about a job in Phoenix AZ. The job, which I declined, would have been strictly DR.

But while I was in Phoenix, a town I happen to like a lot, I did some risk research.

There are only a few serious risks.

One, a sandstorm, happened twice in July (2011) - July 6 and again on July 25.

Motorola had a chip operation in Greater Phoenix when I visited, and its business continuity people recognized the threat of a sandstorm, a/k/a "haboob," a word borrowed from Arabic.

When the plant was constructed, Motorola included a space-station like air lock.

Personnel entered the air lock.

The doors closed.

The air was cleaned.

A second door to the work area opened.

Actually, the air lock is the standard approach to a clean room, but Motorola's was, I was told, on a plant-size scale.

Phoenix also has flooding as a risk.

Believe it.

According to the Maricopa County Flood Control District, the county, in which Phoenix resides,

"has two rainy seasons: summer and winter. Winter usually brings longer-lasting but less-intense storms. Summer brings shorter, more intense thunderstorms. These summer thunderstorms are usually the result of the North American Monsoon (also called the Arizona Monsoon or the Mexican Monsoon). The North American Monsoon impacts the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico every summer (usually July, August and September). "

The county's FCD web site lists floods dating back to 1889 (see http://www.fcd.maricopa.gov/Education/history.aspx).

In addition to sand and flood, the city has two interstate highways - I-10 and I-17 - and a major east-west "U.S." highway, U.S. 60. In addition to the threat of a hazmat mishap, there is the constant risk of accidents preventing staff from timely travel. Sky Harbor International Airport is surrounded by major roadways, including I-10. Once a sleepy airport with only an occasional flight (c. 1957), the airport now has a respectable number of flights provided by 17 airlines, plus the major air freight carriers.

Probably not the last threat, and certainly not the least, is a power outage in a community that cannot remember when it lacked air conditioning.

Phoenix, which at "first blush" appears to be as risk free as any place in the U.S. turns out to have "the usual suspects" plus a couple that fall into the "would you believe" category.

If only Phoenix wasn't so far from a major body of water it would be almost perfect, but I'm used to an ocean or gulf within a short drive.

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