The Government is to spend $750 million as part of the overall plan to develop a national emergency communication system, to coordinate incident response among various critical agencies of government and volunteers.
The money has been set aside in the 2019/20 Estimates of Expenditure, now before the House of Representatives.
Funded by the Government, the ‘Improvement of Emergency Communication System in Jamaica Project’ is being implemented by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).
The overarching aim is to provide an effective emergency telecommunications infrastructure and platform to facilitate timely communication between government agencies and first responders during an emergency.
It includes integration of the National Works Agency (NWA) microwave network for data communication; installation of communication systems that will serve an additional 24 repeater locations, up from the nine stations ODPEM currently operates; and early warning sirens at 15 locations in three communities.
It will also facilitate the acquisition of radio equipment, transmission and reception devices to critical response entities and for placement at key offshore locations – the Morant and Pedro Cays.
The project will significantly strengthen ODPEM’s preparedness to respond in the event of natural disasters, through mechanisms to improve the timeliness of response and recovery at the national, parish and community levels.
For the new fiscal year, the project will procure and install equipment (DECOMS and EWANS System) and prepare access roads to communication tower sites.
Achievements to date under the project include conducting site reconnaissance and the establishment of a project execution unit.