New alert system poised to go live

| 02/08/2019 | 28 Comments
Cayman News Service
Minister Tara Rivers at Radio Alert System workshop

(CNS): Government is still working on phase 1 of a new radio alert system that will interrupt public radio transmissions in the event of a sudden disaster. Having learned lessons about the failure to communicate with the public en masse in the face of the Sol fire at Jackson Point in 2017 and the tsunami warning in the wake of an earthquake in Honduras last year, government has been working to fix the problems and the system is now almost ready to go live.

In 2018 Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) and the Department of Public Safety Communications (DPSC) started work on an integrated radio alert system. Phase I of the National Emergency Notification System (NENS) allows authorised users to initiate emergency messages for broadcast to all radio networks. The emergency message automatically interrupts the radio programming with the alert to let the public know about any disasters, natural or man-made, and what they should do.

In preparation for the final testing, the HMCI and DPSC hosted a workshop this week with key stakeholder agencies, including the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, the Cayman Islands Airports 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.

Speaking at the event, Home Affairs Minister Tara Rivers recalled the Sol fire and the tsunami threat, when it became apparent “that the mechanisms we relied on historically to alert the public, like press releases, radio and TV advisories were not adequate in these situations”.

Rivers said government was committed to public safety, hence the “swift action taken” and funding made available following the Sol incident and the tsunami warning to establish this National Emergency Notification System (NENS).

HMCI Director Danielle Coleman said the workshop provided HMCI and DPSC with a chance to provide information on phase I of the NENS to stakeholders and “get their input on the content for public messaging, which is critical”.

DPSC Director Julian Lewis said the final testing with all radio stations will be finished by the end of this month when the NENS will be activated and operational.

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Comments (28)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What kind of outdated foolishness? What you are really needing is an emergency management system that sends text messages automatically in the event of an emergency. This also needs to be implemented into the schools with their own EMS systems including phone and email alerts.

    • Anonymous says:

      No Lyft or UBER and no emergency management text messages.
      How can this place be so backward? Do the people who makes decisions about these things ever get off Grand Cayman?

  2. Bertie : B says:

    Get three or four old fashioned Church Bells , spread them around the island . Problem Solved !

  3. There’s an app for that says:

    Tara, seriously this might have been a good idea like 30 years ago but in today’s world there are these things called “apps” on your mobile phone or smartphone if you have one.

  4. Anonymous says:

    In the event of Tsunami, everyone must run to the highest point on the Island – Mount Trashmore!

    Seriously CIG, read these comments. You are so stupid to spend time and money on a radio-based early warning system. Hardy anyone listens to the Radio. Disasters happen at night too – at least a mobile phone buzzing away on the bedside table might wake you!

    • Anonymous says:

      “as an improvement operators will be standing by to dial resident’s landlines.”

      dear faddah

  5. Anonymous says:

    Phase 1 plan is farcically ineffectual in scope; how much backsheesh is being requisitioned for this? Where is the money going?

  6. Anonymous says:

    If HMCI wants to continue to pretend to have some kind of EMS broadcast capability and plan, then Emergency only warnings for tornado, tsunami, violent squalls, hurricane landfall, foreign invasion and/or incoming ICBMs, should be sufficiently important to be delivered via cell phone alert SMS or World War II era crank sirens. Like many others living in 2019 (instead of 1939) I’m not gathered around the wireless waiting for Jack Benny’s show to come on, and neither are tourists. Is HMCI getting it’s media tips from the Pines Retirement home?

  7. Anonymous says:


  8. Anonymous says:

    They going to interrupt my bluetooth connection to my car which is how I listen to music. I can’t stand the chit chat rubbish on the radio.

    How about an auto warning via text on everyone’s cell phone? Like they do in other countries. EVERYONE has a cell phone on them.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Yeah – I’m sitting there listening to my radio at 9pm at night…. wtf… wouldn’t a text message, WhatsApp, Facebook blast make more sense. How much $ have they wasted so far? Does anyone in CIG have a brain?

  10. Sad says:

    I trust we will all get an emergency alert notification (sudden disaster) if and when when work is commenced on the cruise ship piers.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Radio? Who listens to the radio anymore? Another brilliant move by CIG to drag us back firmly to 1950.

  12. Abys says:

    So… ISPs can tell all of us about the hot new deals on a two year old phone, but I can’t get a simple text to say “hold on tight boh, 100 ft wave incoming”?
    In the age of Deezer/Spotify, I don’t listen to ad infested radio anymore.

    • Anonymous says:

      They can’t even send out their staff with the proper tools for maintenance any more, and I’m not blaming the poor staff. It is like pulling teeth to get anything done. Calling another country for a simple problem here in Cayman is a total waste of time, they can’t even take a drop wire down fault but direct you to the nearest office.

      This is what happens when special interests dictate government policy, standards, practices, training and skills go out the door and the person in charge (10%) was wined and dined and flew up and down in the corporate jet. Sell us out indeed.

  13. Anonymous says:


  14. Anonymous says:

    The emergency message automatically interrupts the radio programming with the alert to let the public know about any disasters, natural or man-made, and what they should do.

    “Man made” disaster. So does this mean we will be notified on the radio if the government goes ahead with raping our ocean to put a concrete eye sore out by the waterfront?

  15. Anonymous says:

    An alert would create chaos without evacuation plans.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Would they simply alert or tell people where to evacuate?

  17. Abayomi says:

    Who listens to radio? A Watsapp to everyone would be cheaper and more reliable. Even a text would make more sense.

    • Anonymous says:

      An alert text with a loud annoying noise on all cellphones m similar to an Amber alert that the US and Canada has for child kidnappings. Otherwise who listens to the radio.

      • Anonymous says:

        Startling Amber alert klaxons, often sent at 4am, when General Public shouldn’t be practically expected to cloth themselves and rush outside to do something, are increasingly unpopular and not on the same level of impending doom or urgency to the general public as an incoming volley of ICBMs. These will likely move to text only alerts in coming months, leaving Alert Klaxons for serious relatable and rarified emergencies like Tornados and hellfire. St Francis home here seems to be short a few girls every other week.

        • Anonymous says:

          You can turn it off with few clicks. No need to even write about it. If you have smart phone learn about its smart features.

          • Anonymous says:

            Some people need to have their phone on at night…for emergencies, not for St Francis Home teen-love booty calls.

            • Anonymous says:

              Amber alerts are for kidnappings not for runaways. The girls that go missing from those homes are troubled runaways.

              Besides the poster suggested using the Amber alert method for disasters. It doesn’t look like they suggested having amber alerts in Cayman.

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