In 2018, Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) in collaboration with the Department of Public Safety Communications (DPSC) commenced the installation of an integrated versatile radio alert system solution.
This constitutes Phase I of the National Emergency Notification System (NENS) which enables authorised users to initiate emergency messages for broadcast to all radio networks. The emergency message automatically interrupts the radio broadcast and airs the alert, after which normal programming resumes. This is particularly useful for alerting the public to sudden onset disasters when little to no warning is feasible or in slow onset disasters where critical information needs to be shared in a timely manner.
In preparation for the final testing stage of Phase I implementation, a sensitisation workshop was facilitated by HMCI and DPSC on Tuesday 30 July 2019 with a number of key stakeholder agencies including the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, the Cayman Islands Airport Authority, the Department of Environment, the Department of Environmental Health, the Health Services Authority, the Utility Regulation and Competition Office of the Cayman Islands (OfReg), the Cayman Islands National Weather Service, Emergency Medical Services and Radio Cayman.
During the workshop participants received details about the status of the project and how the system will work. They were also asked for feedback on issues relevant to their respective agencies, especially in relation to the content for public messaging, to ensure the maximum alerting and warning information is received.
In her opening remarks, Minister with responsibility for Home Affairs, Hon. Tara Rivers, JP MLA said:” Many of you will recall the SOL fire in July 2017 and the subsequent alert of a potential Tsunami threat following an earthquake North of Honduras in January 2018. It was immediately apparent that the mechanisms that we relied on historically to alert the public, like press releases, radio and TV advisories were not adequate in these situations.”
Minister Rivers went on to stress the Government’s ongoing commitment to public safety, as evidenced by the swift action taken after these events to make provisions in the Disaster Preparedness and Hazard Management Law (2019 Revision) for the establishment of the National Emergency Notification System (NENS) and the commitment of funding for implementation of Phase I.
Director of Hazard Management Cayman Islands, Ms. Danielle Coleman said: “The workshop was very successful as it provided HMCI and DPSC with an opportunity to provide information about Phase I of the NENS to all key stakeholder agencies and get their input on the content for public messaging, which is critical.”
Director, Department of Public Safety Communications, Mr. Julian Lewis confirmed that the final testing with all radio stations will be completed by end of August 2019, following which Phase I of the NENS will be fully activated and operational.