While we are all still busy with the COVID-19 crisis, the next shutdown scenario might be just around the corner. Experts predict that a so-called blackout will occur within the next five years. This is a large-scale power failure that would result in the collapse of the entire infrastructure and thus catastrophically restrict the usual processes in our daily lives. After all, without electricity everything comes to a standstill: telecommunications, water and fuel supply, traffic control systems, heating and air conditioning, computer systems and much more are unavailable for an indefinite period of time, considerable personal restrictions as well as significant economic damage to companies due to business interruptions are to be expected.

The triggers are manifold

There can be many reasons for a blackout: Cyber-attacks and terrorist attacks, natural disasters, human error and above all insufficient network stability. The power supply is based on systems that are prone to errors due to their complexity, triggering chain reactions that then lead to supra-regional failures in the power supply. It is not possible to eliminate all these potential causes permanently, so the threat of a future blackout is currently very real, even though the probability of this happening is mathematically low.

The solutions is in risk and insurance management

Blackout scenarios should therefore also be taken into account in the emergency and business continuity plans (business continuity management). Especially municipalities and public institutions as well as companies of the critical infrastructure have a special responsibility in this regard. The preparation of the locally responsible authorities and emergency organizations for a blackout scenario varies widely throughout Austria, there are currently no uniform rules or procedures, and in many places an emergency plan, if it exists at all, has never been sampled or simulated.
All the more, the ability of the population to help itself is a central basis for all other necessary measures. Experts believe that this could take up to two weeks. There is little awareness of this among the population. It is essential to have the feeling of security, to be prepared for an emergency through open security communication and targeted risk and crisis management.

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Johannes Vogl

General Manager GrECo Risk Engineering

T +43 5 040411160