Business owners now have a new tool to help them prepare for disasters thanks to a mobile disaster preparedness application created by FIU’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the FIU Extreme Events Institute.
“Entrepreneurs take on many risks in starting and growing their business. In the event of a disaster or business interruption, however, it makes business sense to mitigate these risks,” said Brian Van Hook, associate director of the SBDC at FIU. “Our hope is that in making disaster preparedness resources more user-friendly and accessible, we can help more Miami-Dade businesses survive disasters.”
Bizaster, available in both English and Spanish for Android and iOS, assists businesses better prepare themselves, respond to a disaster, and jump-start operations post-disaster. Resources in the app include risk assessments, customizable checklists, and disaster simulations.
According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, disasters could cost small businesses about $3,000 per day. For large companies such as Walmart or Sony, this dollar amount is not a major concern. However, for small business, such an interruption could end their business for good. This is more of an issue when you consider that a vast majority of small businesses do not have a business continuity plan nor have they undertaken any disaster preparedness efforts.
To address this area of need, the SBDC at FIU has utilized resource guides, checklists, and tabletop exercises to increase the survival rate of local businesses after disasters. However, recognizing these resources could be more accessible in a mobile app format, the SBDC at FIU joined forces with FIU’s Extreme Events Institute to develop Bizaster. Originally developed for use in Latin America and the Caribbean, the app was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.
For business owners, it is often difficult to “see the forest for the trees” – to identify critical and actionable information to help grow and protect their business. They either do not know where to start; do not think a disaster will impact them; or feel overwhelmed by navigating the multitude of resources out there. Bizaster is intended to, quite literally, put user-friendly disaster preparedness resources into business owners’ hands.