Danger alert: A new partnership is set to provide hurricane information direc to people’s mobile phones free of charge. *File photo
Danger alert: A new partnership is set to provide hurricane information direc to people’s mobile phones free of charge. *File photo

A new partnership between cellphone firms and Government could save lives, Minister for National Security Michael Dunkley said yesterday.

The Emergency Measures Organisation (EMO) and the ministry have teamed up with Digcel and CellOne to send out text message alerts in the event of a hurricane to ensure islanders have the latest information at their fingertips.

And the new service is likely to be tested within the next two weeks to ensure it is up and running in the event of a major storm alert for Bermuda.

Mr Dunkley said: “This is a genuine public/private partnership which could save lives and will make the passage of important information smoother and more reliable during hurricane season.”

The text messages will give near-instant updates on weather, the closure of the Causeway and information on schools, summer camps and public transport. Mr Dunkley said: “Messages will be short and sharp and clearly indicate that it is from the EMO and the period for which it is valid.

“The Ministry has also agreed that the value of this service is in managing it so it’s only used for important information communicated to customers.”

Wayne Caines, the CEO of Digicel, and Liam McKittrick of CellOne both confirmed that the new service will be free of charge.

Mr Caines added: “This is a most excellent initiative. Whenever we can get together for the good of the people of Bermuda, it’s a good day for all and this is something which is way ahead of its time.”

Mr McKittrick said: “We will do our part to get the messages out in a prompt time frame.”

Mr Dunkley added that more traditional means of communication — like the EMO radio station and media bulletins — would continue as not everyone uses cellphones or text services.

But he said: “Most people seem to have a cellphone in the palm of their hand at all times.”

Mr Dunkley added he had earlier updated the public on the EMO and its readiness to deal with whatever weather comes Bermuda’s way. 

He said: “So far, the season has been relatively quiet as far as Bermuda is concerned, but it is still early in the season and we hope that continues.”