• United States



by Dave Gradijan

Wal-Mart Crisis Management Involves Govt. and Public Agencies

Sep 06, 20062 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

The processes and relationships that Wal-Mart Stores had in place with government agencies and public service organizations before Hurricane Katrina helped the retail giant recover after the storm and floods, and deliver goods and services to affected areas, the company’s director of emergency management said today.

Jason Jackson, who heads up Wal-Mart’s 24×7 emergency operations center, told attendees at The Security Standard conference in Boston that his group seeks to make emergency response a flexible, process-driven operation that can grow if needed and deal with a crisis anywhere the global retailer does business.  

Jackson said Wal-Mart’s emergency operations center has liaisons from public service groups like the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. The company also reaches out to local, state and federal emergency response agencies wherever it does business, and makes a point of understanding which party is competent in which capability. “Partner for success,” Jackson said. “Know who to contact, and how to engage them.”

Hurricane Katrina affected 34,000 Wal-Mart Stores employees and 173 facilities including stores and logistics centers; 120 of those facilities sustained damage during the storm. During the crisis, a Wal-Mart executive team assembled daily conference calls at 7:30 a.m. to identify priorities to tackle for the day, and at 5 p.m. to update progress and conditions. The emergency operations center deployed its teams of specialists in areas such as power supplies and communications, and made supply chain decisions about moving goods that residents could use to the Gulf Coast. The company delivered 2,498 trailers of merchandise to the affected areas, Jackson said, and managed to account for all of its store associates after five weeks. It also used its capabilities to augment the work of emergency responders, including setting up health-care stations to deliver inoculations and mobile pharmacies where stores were not fully operational.

Jackson emphasized the forward-looking, global nature of his operations center’s work. He said his team tracks impending crises and disasters, both natural and man-made, around the globe, using both contracted sources of information and publicly available data. It watches storms forming off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic, and tracks weather patterns headed to North America, and wherever Wal-Mart does business.

By Michael Goldberg

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