Cayman now has what officials tout as “the most advanced and modern radio system in the Caribbean.”
Government held a ceremony in West Bay on Wednesday afternoon to mark the new radio system coming online. Home Affairs Minister Tara Rivers cut the ribbon on a new safety radio communication bunker, which takes the audio from officers, repeats it, and sends it out to be broadcast through the area. The bunker is one of eight throughout Cayman, and three new ones have been installed.
More than 1,000 officers from police, Fire Service, Department of Environment, and other agencies are now using the radios, according to Ramon Canto, the sales director for Motorola’s Caribbean region. Motorola inked a $5.9 million contract with government in December 2017 to implement the system.
The new radios replace what government deemed as “outdated” analog radios with digital radios that have the capacity for features such as GPS location, text messaging and encryption.
The new devices will improve the safety of officers by eliminating “black spots” in certain parts of Cayman where analog radio reception is weak. Former Chief Fire Officer David Hails said in December 2017 that his department was also experiencing weak reception in large, concrete buildings, which sometimes forced them to resort to mobile phones for communication.
Department of Public Safety Communications Director Julian Lewis said the new system now provides coverage to all parts of the territory.
“The system testing and radio user reports have confirmed that the installation of hardware at the three new locations provides excellent radio coverage, that’s stronger than ever before, stretching to all part of the Islands,” he said.
GPS tracking is another potential life-saving measure in the case of an endangered or downed officer, according to Hazard Management Deputy Director Lee Madison.
The new radios will still be able to communicate with analog devices. Some 1,000 new handheld devices and other radio equipment are replacing old gear at the 911 dispatch center and all other emergency-response agencies. The current radios will be repurposed for other government departments that do not need the new technology, according to Mr. Madison.