Government approves National Emergency Telecommunications plan for Dominica

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Telecommuncations Minister Oscar George
Minister responsible for Telecommunications Oscar George

CABINET PRESS RELEASE

The Cabinet of Dominica has approved the implementation of the National Emergency Telecommunications Plan (NETP) to establish a cohesive and harmonized structure for emergency communications in Dominica.

The NETP was developed to ensure efficiency in emergency communication in the immediate aftermath of any natural disaster. The government conducted a multi-sectoral consultation in April 2021 to consider issues related to mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery as the basis for informing the Plan. Participants included the Office of Disaster Management, telecoms service providers, utility companies, amateur radio providers, shipping agencies, and other private and public sector entities.

The implementation of the NETP will involve the formalization of legislation for disaster risk management. The Comprehensive Disaster Management Bill will incorporate provisions of the Tampere Convention, a UN treaty, signed by Dominica in 2000. The Tampere Convention calls on states to facilitate the provision of prompt telecommunication assistance to mitigate the impact of a disaster.

The National Disaster Plan will be updated to improve coordination among relevant actors involved in disaster risk management and emergency response communications. The Office of Disaster Management (ODM) and other agencies, which form the National Emergency Planning Organization (NEPO), will fast-track the adoption of a comprehensive disaster management framework; maintain updated hazard maps for all hazards; and provide information on the most vulnerable, disaster-prone communities in Dominica.

Other action items include the updating of the network inventory and coverage of mobile and fixed telecoms operators, radio and television broadcasting; and the adoption of alternative telecoms and ICT infrastructure, such as satellite services and devices for voice and broadband communications. The Government of Dominica will coordinate with ECTEL member states to develop specific regulations for the telecommunications and ICT sector regarding disaster risk management, and update standard operating procedures for emergency and disaster response related to communication.

Additionally, Dominica will enhance surveillance and monitoring systems for probable threats prior to the occurrence of disasters or emergencies. Telecommunications training and drills for emergencies will be conducted to enhance the execution of policies, plans, and procedures governing the use of communications networks.

The NETP implementation plan also considers the establishment of call centers to warn affected populations of new risks, disseminate updates and connect affected citizens with relatives; as well as the development of emergency operations centers to provide critical communication to users during the response phase of a disaster.

1 COMMENT

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