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Published 22nd September 2005, 2:50pm

Government launched a new website today (Thursday, 22 September) and announced a new entity, the Joint Communications Service, which will be managing the National Hurricane Committee's communications efforts. is now the official source of emergency information for the Cayman Islands. The website is designed to serve communication needs of three key audiences: local and overseas publics, local and overseas media, and local emergency response agencies.

The site, to remain active year round, is designed to serve needs not only in hurricane situations, but in all potential emergencies, such as earthquakes, mass casualties, and epidemics, for example.

The aim is to serve the information needs of target populations in these situations, from preparation to response, recovery and reconstruction.

Under non-threat circumstances, the home page is bordered in blue and features colourful island scenes. But once a threat is entered, the border turns red and the photos and welcome text are replaced with a tracking map and the latest advisory.

The website and other communication tools are managed by the JCS. This agency is staffed by personnel from GIS, the Department of Tourism, and the Portfolio of Finance and Economics. The organisation is led by Coordinator Angela Martins, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education.

Consultants Witt and Associates assisted the NHC in revising the national hurricane plan post Ivan, and consulted in how to integrate communications into the organisations response.

"This re-structuring of the NHC to integrate communications in its emergency response will assist the JCS in working much more effectively in carrying out their roles," said Chief Information Officer Patricia Ebanks, who leads the information service's response