JIS News

Story Highlights

  • As part of the Government’s coordinated effort to enhance the country’s resilience to deal with disasters, ODPEM is working to strengthen the communication network of emergency agencies.
  • To give extra push to this initiative, the agency launched Disaster Preparedness Month (June) under the theme: ‘Connect to Protect: Advancing Emergency, Telecommunications, Strengthening Community Mobilization’, at its headquarters in Kingston, on June 2.
  • The launch coincides with the 2015 Hurricane season, which began on June 1, and will end on November 30.

As part of the Government’s coordinated effort to enhance the country’s resilience to deal with disasters, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is working to strengthen the communication network of emergency agencies.

To give extra push to this initiative, the agency launched Disaster Preparedness Month (June) under the theme: ‘Connect to Protect: Advancing Emergency, Telecommunications, Strengthening Community Mobilization’, at its headquarters in Kingston, on June 2.

The launch coincides with the 2015 Hurricane season, which began on June 1, and will end on November 30.

In her address at the ceremony, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Ms. Hilary Alexander, said the Government has taken action to shore up the telecommunications sector to assist in disaster mitigation.

She noted that the country now has over one hundred percent telephone density, which equates to one hundred percent access to voice telephone communication.

The Permanent Secretary explained that this diffusion of telecommunication services creates numerous opportunities for the development of applications for various uses by the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.

“Under the Ministry’s Emergency Communications and Disaster Mitigation Policy, those needs will be prioritised. It is a matter of national interest,” she emphasised.

“The ICT policy articulates as an objective, the optimal utilization of all of our ICT resources for enhanced national security and disaster communications and management responses. The Government undertakes to prioritize the enabling communication resources for disaster mitigation, and ensure that any obstacles to the provision of those communication resources that are required for security and disaster mitigation and relief operations are addressed,” Ms. Alexander added.

Additionally, the Permanent Secretary stressed the importance of interoperability of communication systems among emergency agencies.

“Very often we have the issue of separate and discrete (communication) systems that are not connected…so although each one will say I have a system that is operating, it is not necessarily achieving the kind of interconnectedness that is so critical in disaster management,” she argued.

Meanwhile, Director of Information and Training at the ODPEM, Cheryl Nichols, said the country’s telecommunications sector is an essential part of disaster preparedness, as it facilitates communication between the various emergency response agencies.

The ODPEM has partnered with LIME Jamaica Limited, which will provide financial support for activities planned by the agency for Disaster Preparedness Month 2015.