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3-phase mass emergency notification system planned

Hazard Management Cayman Islands Acting Director Lee Madison says there is a three-phase plan in place for a mass emergency notification system in the Cayman Islands. 

The issue came to light Wednesday (10 January) following Tuesday’s (9 January) tsunami, where HMCI came under fire from some in the community who were unhappy with the amount of time it took to alert the public to what was happening. 

The first phase includes installing equipment with Cayman’s radio stations that would interrupt their broadcasts and send across an emergency message.

Mr. Madison says it cost Government about $60,000.

He hopes to have it in place within the next four to six weeks.

At the very least he says he’d like to have it operating on a Government-owned radio station by the end of March and roll it out to other stations within a month after that.

The second phase would involve Cayman’s cable providers and would include crawling text across the bottom of your screen. Mr. Madison says costing has not been done for this phase.

The third phase includes HMCI — in partnership with local telecoms providers — sending a message straight to your phone notifying you of an emergency.

Mr. Madison said that would cost between $1-2 million and would need to be implemented by way of a public-private partnership.

Last year, HMCI tested a programme to send SMS messages directly to your phone. They later said the test went poorly and only a fraction of phone users in Cayman confirmed they received the test message.

“SMS is not a priority system,” Mr. Madison said. “It’s not made for that. It’s great for doing ‘there’s a sale on’ or something like that. 

“It’s one-to-one communication. It’s one phone to one phone. It’s not made for… it’s sequential. Where as the system we’re looking at sends to every single phone exactly at the same time in a blast.” 

Mr. Madison says there’s no timeline for when those final two phases of the plan will be implemented.

About the author

Kevin Morales

Kevin Morales

Cayman 27 News Director Kevin Morales is an award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience. Kevin is a Milwaukee, Wis., native. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 2005 from the University of Minnesota. He's a proud father and a loyal fan of the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Bucks and U of M Golden Gophers.

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