Supporting the Cayman Islands in Hurricane Season

Political map of the Caribbean, including the Cayman Islands

Project: Disaster preparations
Customer: Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)
Location: Cayman Islands

 

Hurricanes in the Caribbean are a seasonal issue, with communications to and from the UK and other countries disrupted during these disasters. Find out how we provided the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) with a secure, efficient solution, including guidance, delivery and long-term support.

During the 2017 hurricane crises in the Caribbean it became clear that the satellite communications equipment needed updating. With slow connection times and complex setup, the existing kit wasn’t fit for purpose.

Following these challenges the FCO contacted us for advice on how to better prepare for the 2018 hurricane season. With our extensive knowledge of dealing with crises around the world, we recommended sending dedicated Expeditionary Diplomacy Kits to the Caribbean Overseas Territories. This would ensure all islands had access to professional communication capabilities immediately available after any event.

Supplying practical equipment

Once we agreed the solution, we developed the Expeditionary Diplomacy Kits for the FCO. This included both updating the satellite communications equipment and training staff on the new devices.

Based on the limitations of the previous equipment, it was clear the new design had to be lightweight, robust and portable, as well as easy to set up and deploy.

We carefully selected equipment which fulfilled these criteria, weighing around 29 kg and supplied in two cases that are easy to carry-on to an aircraft. The equipment is configured specifically to access a secure, high-speed broadband satellite network. Most importantly, the user-friendly design allows operators with limited experience to access the satellite service within minutes.

Training staff

Next we began training staff. We started with our Regional Technical Support Service (RTSS) team based in America. Our global system of regional hubs allows for faster responses from the hub to smaller Posts. In the case of emergency this team would be deployed first to the Cayman Islands to provide technical support and restore communications to the UK and other countries.

Finally, a UK team was deployed to the Cayman Islands to train the FCO staff at post. Training was delivered at the Governor’s Office in Anguilla, Grand Turk, Montserrat, Grand Cayman and Tortola.

Today, our Posts in the Caribbean are ready for hurricane season. Having secure communication that can be set up by non-technical staff allows for a faster response and better support to any relief efforts necessary. Furthermore, with the RTSS team located in the broader region, outside help can be rapidly deployed to the area.

Hurricanes in this region are an annual seasonal issue that we will have to deal with, therefore investment now in dedicated kits ensures that all Islands (not just one) are able to have professional communications capabilities immediately available after any event. The successful delivery of this project means that next time there is a crisis to hit the Cayman Islands communication can be set up quickly and easily by nontechnical staff at post in order to support any relief efforts necessary.

RTSS technical lead

This helps to ensure that agencies in the UK and the region are able to coordinate with government teams on the ground and provide essential relief if necessary

Matthew Forbes, Head of Governor’s Office, Cayman Islands

Related articles