Computer crash disrupts 911

 

A network computer crash knocked out some key emergency communications features for the Cayman Islands government and left about half of the entire government service without email for more than two hours this week.  

According to Computer Services Department Director Gilbert McLaughlin, one of four core network switches used by government “crashed” between 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday. The source of the problem was located in the Citrus Grove building in downtown George Town.  

“The network downtime affected the government exchange database [but only about half of the core email users] and various file servers,” Mr. McLaughlin said. 

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash. 

One of the key areas affected by the incident was the 911 Emergency Communications Centre. The crash knocked out the 911 computer-aided dispatch system and the police service’s RMS data recording system. Telephones at the center did not go down, but officials confirmed that call takers were not able to log information into computer systems during the outage.  

Computer-aided dispatch is integrated with the RMS and the jail management system as well. It was believed all three went down for the balance of the outage period.  

The emergency center has a “manual” backup system during such occasions, essentially managing data entry the way it did before computer-aided dispatch was introduced.  

The outage interrupted 911’s ability to access the drivers vehicle and license system, preventing police officers from getting car registration or drivers license information. 

Mr. McLaughlin said computer services was contacting the computer system vendor to determine what occurred. He said network “core switches” had been identified as needing replacement. The department has requested funding to replace that equipment.  

The government has already been put on notice that significant investment will be required in its information technology infrastructure toward the end of this year.  

A recent auditor general’s report revealed that the government’s main computerized financial system, operated by Oracle Financials and generally referred to as IRIS, is now outdated and needs an upgrade.  

Oracle Financials has indicated that as of November, it will no longer support the operating system being used by government.  

“IRIS, in its current configuration, is not managed effectively and does not support the financial community in carrying out its primary role for managing and recording government’s financial transactions … to facilitate accurate and timely financial reporting,” Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick wrote in the report.  

According to the auditor general, a “large investment” is being contemplated by the government regarding upgrades to the computer system. The investment is expected to cost anywhere from $700,000 to $1 million.  

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