City firm installs disaster safety net

BIDDLE & Co goes live this week with a new IT infrastructure designed to withstand terrorist attacks, fires, bombs and other disasters.

The City firm intends to test-drive the new system among its secretaries before training lawyers to use it.

The system is based on DEC Alpha hardware supplied by Resolution Systems, and uses Microsoft Windows NT and an SQLServer database. Biddle & Co will also use the PC Docs document management system.

All three of the firm's offices at Gresham Street and Aldersgate Street are linked by a triangular communications system. This means that if activity in one office is halted, for example, by a bomb, then the communications infrastructure will automatically transfer data to another office, securing all work carried out. This precaution could lead to major savings on premiums for terrorist insurance, which can cost City firms around £50,000 a year.

Insurance costs can be reduced by as much as 12.5 per cent if firms carry out effective contingency plans. An overall disaster plan including the provision of temporary accommodation for lawyers would be required.