Text alerts available

Sign up for hurricane and storm warnings

As Tropical Storm Debby moves west-northwestward across the Atlantic, Cayman residents are reminded that the peak of storm season has arrived.

Since ‘forewarned is forearmed’, the joint efforts of the National Hurricane Committee and Ktone should help lessen some of that anxiety, said a GIS press release.

Now everyone with a cell phone can sign up to receive the NHC’s alerts via Ktone text messaging without cost.

There are three ways for users to sign up: log onto www.ktone.ky and follow the directions on the web site; call Ktone on 945-8663 and set up an account over the phone; or attend an event where Ktone is registering new users. The company has held such events at places like Davie Jones Locker, Welly’s Cool Spot, Aqua Beach and the Mango Tree.

NHC text message alerts will be specially edited for reading on the small screen, said Chief Information Officer Patricia Ebanks. ‘Our cell phone text messaging service will announce each new stage, whether alert, watch, warning or all clear. We’ll also send short bulletins on when schools and government offices will close, for instance.’

The NHC wants to make savvy use of the new technology to keep users informed.

NHC Chairman Donovan Ebanks said, ‘Technology users know where to access more information. They know that complete releases will be on CaymanPrepared or other web sites operated by broadcast facilities or newspapers.’

Ktone launched in January and has since been busy promoting its service and signing up users.

Managing Director Neil de Vere envisaged a software system that would allow information to be sent to cell phones via SMS (short messaging service) without ‘spamming’. Customers would choose the messages they wanted to receive. When designing such a system, Ktone teamed up with Brac Informatics and Cable & Wireless B Mobile; however, both Digicel and C&W users are eligible for the service.

Ktone approached the NHC in regards to using the service for hurricane and storm warnings as the company saw this as the next logical step in communications between the NHC and the people of Cayman.

Mr. de Vere notes: ‘After Hurricane Ivan we learned that text messaging was the one form of communication Cayman was able to rely on. People who would not normally use text or did not know how to, started and continue to use it today.

‘Ktone will be able to deliver hurricane warnings and updates immediately from the live system controlled by the NHC. This means the NHC will not have to wait for local media centres to prepare a broadcast, local press to print the information or local mobile telecom providers to be available.’