Thu | Feb 22, 2018

Plan of action to address country's disaster readiness

Published:Friday | January 26, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Dr. Andrew Wheatley

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley told high-level communications officials yesterday that their respective entities have an important role in ensuring that citizens are notified of impending threats from natural disasters.

He added that measures to optimise the functions and synchronisation of all telecommunications systems as it relates to their operations within the wider National Alert System must be ensured.

Officials from telecommunications firms FLOW and Digicel, as well as from the ministry, were in on the meeting, which had been requested as a result of communications deficiencies identified with the National Alert System as a result of the tsunami scare two weeks ago.

"The purpose of the meeting was to discuss, with an eye to resolving, all issues concerning the state of readiness of the telecommunications entities as it relates to national disaster preparedness, specifically as it relates to earthquake- and tsunami-type incidents and the attendant systems that must be in place to handle such incidents," Wheatley said.

 

OUTSTANDING ISSUES

 

The two major service providers outlined their current state of readiness and highlighted specific issues that were still outstanding since the initiative to create a cohesive national alert system was first announced in 2010.

Wheatley suggested that a working group be formed with representatives from the two telecommunications companies, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, and his ministry to immediately create a plan of action to address all outstanding issues related to the telecommunications component of the National Alert System.

"Such a plan must ensure that all systems are brought to a level in keeping with global best practices. Therefore, we at the ministry are going to take the lead on this matter, and I have given this working group two weeks to come back to me with a report and plan of action to address all of the outstanding issues associated with the telecommunications components of the National Alert System," said Wheatley.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com