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 Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The International Telecommunication Union along with the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organization (CTO) organized a three-day Forum 26-28 September on Using ICT for Effective Disaster Management. The meeting at Ochos Rios, Jamaica adopted a road map for better coordination in the use of state-of-the-art information and communication technologies (ICT) aimed at improved disaster preparedness and mitigation.

The roadmap includes: formulation of appropriate policies deployment of appropriate technologies ratification and implementation of the Tampere Convention for free movement of technical equipment in case of disaster capacity building for users of ICT services and applications establishment of national platforms that help countries to be ready to use ICT when disasters strike development of common regional strategies on integrating ICT in all phases of disaster mitigation: early warning, preparedness, response and relief

At the Ochos Rios meeting, comments from Jamaican government officials and several regional Caribbean representatives focused on the ability, or lack of ability, of governments, telecom carriers, IT backup service providers, businesses enterprise customers and other private-sector organizations to cope with their most comment peril: tropical hurricanes. The intense 2005 hurricane season brought a record 27 storms (including Emily, Katrina and Wilma) into the region. "Following the 2004 Ivan hurricane disaster and Emily in 2005, it became evident that the lack of communications was one of the significant weaknesses of the regional disaster management framework," says Philip Paulwell, Jamaica's Minister of Industry, Technology, Energy Commerce. "Intra-agency communications as well as public information have been identified as requiring improvement." "There's an urgent need to establish effective and comprehensive communication links between the affected areas, national disaster response facilities and with the larger international community.

For further details, see the ITU press release on this topic.