As the region enters a more active period of this year’s hurricane season, staff from the Governor’s Office and Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI), have tested new emergency satellite communications equipment yesterday (7 September 2018), on the roof of the Government Administration Building.
The new equipment was obtained by the Governor’s Office following lessons learned in other Overseas Territories last year when Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused major communication challenges for the authorities.
The new capability includes a range of options for Government including a static unit capable of running a large suite of telephone and internet communications from within government offices, to more mobile units that would be deployable around Grand Cayman or the Sister Islands if required. The equipment was funded and supplied by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Head of the Governor’s Office, Matthew Forbes and Director of HMCI, Danielle Coleman, were both deployed to the British Virgin Islands following last year’s hurricanes, and witnessed first-hand the challenges faced in the aftermath including lengthy telephone and internet outages and a complete loss of communications with outlying islands.
Mr. Forbes commented: “Following a major disaster such as Hurricane Irma last year, it is essential that effective communications with the outside world are maintained. This helps to ensure that agencies in the U.K. and the region are able to coordinate with Government teams on the ground and provide essential relief effectively.”
He added: “This new equipment provides us with a range of options to help coordinate overseas relief in the event a disaster knocks-out conventional communications, as happened in BVI last year. Regular training and testing is vital to ensure that key staff members are familiar with its operation.”