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On Sunday night at about 8pm, over 500 people in my town found out what operational resilience means.

It was at this moment that the headmaster of the local school had to send a message to the parents of 500 children informing them that the school had no electricity and that we would not know until 8:30am the following day if the power could be restored in time for the school to open.

In scenes reminiscent of Italia ’90, when the country waited to see if Packie Bonner could save a Romanian penalty and send the Irish soccer team into the quarter finals of the World Cup, over 500 parents had to wait 12 hours to find out the result.

Unfortunately, power was not restored in time, so the school had to remain closed for the day*.

For a second time in less than a month.

The root cause was completely outside of the headmaster’s control. And yet, I am sure he felt accountable for the problem – even though he was not responsible for it. Hopefully, the parents realise it was outside of his control.


The root cause?

The school is currently operating from a temporary building while a new school is built**. The temporary building has been in use since last Easter. But the rocket scientists involved in commissioning the building had not yet connected it to the electricity network***. As a result, the school was dependent on a diesel generator for all of its power. When the generator failed, the school closed.

These same rocket scientists also did not believe a second / backup generator would be necessary.

As far as they were concerned, operational resilience was an optional extra.


What has this got to do with cyber security?

DORA (the Digital Operational Resilience Act) will force financial services organisations to get better at operational resilience.

Clearly, the regulators believe Operational Resilience is important.

And at least 500 people in my local town now understand why.


* Thanks to all of my clients who re-worked their schedule so I could deal with this unexpected childcare ‘opportunity’.

** Talk of a new school started at around the same time as Italia ’90.

*** A cynic might say this was because someone didn’t get the necessary backhander.