Sat | Sep 26, 2020

Earth Today | FLOW tests hurricane readiness

Published:Thursday | July 16, 2020 | 12:00 AM
FLOW technicians install a generator at the Stony Hill Exchange in preparation for the 2020 Hurricane Season.

FLOW JAMAICA recently completed its virtual multi-hazard simulation exercise as it tests its readiness, including the resilience, reliability and dependability of key service areas, for what could be a multi-hazard hurricane season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The simulation exercise included representatives from the National Meteorological Service, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, the Jamaica Public Service Company, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and Ericsson, in addition to key departments at FLOW.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has already predicted an above-average season, with 13 to 19 named storms, of which six to 10 could become hurricanes.

Heather Wallen-Bryan, senior manager, BCM Safety and Security, said the virtual simulation included various scenarios that required team members to respond safely while restoring the network infrastructure and responding to customers within a reasonable period.

“We are ready for the 2020 hurricane season. Prior to our virtual multi-hazard simulation, we held a COVID-19 simulation which enabled us to identify all the gaps in preparing for a possible hurricane/COVID-19 disaster. We have ensured that the required standby generators and battery backups are in place for network stability and that communication, locally and internationally, will be maintained via our two-way radios and satellite telephones,” Wallen-Bryan shared.

GREATER DEPENDENCY

According to Shawn Holder, maintenance director, FLOW’s battery backup power systems will provide mobile and fixed connectivity for between four and eight hours after a commercial power failure.

“With the upgrade of more of our customers to FTTH (fibre to the home), the customers will have greater dependency on the stability of commercial electrical power. We therefore recommend that customers install UPS systems on their fixed broadband devices to enable connectivity for a few hours after a commercial power failure,” Holder stated.

“Maintaining connectivity for our customers remains our number one priority and every effort will be made, in the event of a disaster, to have the services back online as quickly as possible,” he added.

FLOW Jamaica’s preparations are in keeping with those of parent company C&W Communications, a Liberty Latin America firm, and shared across all markets in preparation for the 2020 hurricane season.