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Published 31st August 2004, 6:6pm

Minister of Planning, Communications, District Administration and Information Technology, the Hon. Juliana O'Connor-Connolly recently toured several departments in her ministry including Computer Services; 911 Emergency Communications; Telecommunications Services; Information and Communications Technology Authority (ICTA) and Postal Services.

Minister O'Connor-Connolly, accompanied by Acting Permanent Secretary Christine Maltman, initiated the visits to gain an overview of the concerns of each department and get feedback on support the ministry provides.

At Computer Services, Mrs. O'Connor-Connolly met with Director Gilbert O. McLaughlin Sr., Deputy Director for Application Services Celia Yates, and Deputy Director of Network Operations and Security Wesley Howell, who introduced her to staff and updated her on the status of operations.

Mr. McLaughlin assured the minister that the department was serving its government clients effectively through its application development services in addition to providing technical support and distribution services. One area of concern was the need to increase work space for the department's 67 employees who often share their offices with servers and other equipment.

During the visit to the Office of Telecommunications Services (OFTEL), Mrs O'Connor-Connolly and Director Michael Kiron discussed his department's role in providing radio communication service for all government departments and statutory authorities including Health Services and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

Mr. Kiron pointed to the success of last years' agreement with Motorola, which allowed government to upgrade its radio-communication system, including building additional transmission facilities on all three islands. This allows virtually 100% radio system coverage throughout the Cayman Islands. Motorola has also agreed to provide special assistance during the 2004 General Elections by providing engineering support staff to deal with problems with the radio system.

Mrs O'Connor-Connolly then visited the Information and Communications Technology Authority (ICTA) for the first time, touring their offices and meeting employees. The ICTA is responsible for regulating all information communications technology networks and services including telephony, broadcasting, radio and e-business.

Director David Archibold explained that 2004 has been a busy year, especially in regards to the introduction of competition in the telecommunications market. He also mentioned the praise that many clients voiced regarding the efficiency of the ICTA because of their experienced and knowledgeable staff of economists, lawyers and managers.

At the 911 Emergency Communications headquarters, located in the Central Police Station, Mrs. O'Connor-Connolly experienced firsthand the small and efficient office where up to four 911 telecommunicators answer calls around the clock.

Manager Juliette Gooding described the telecommunicators' job as stressful, since they can receive in the area of 50 calls per shift, ranging from calls for emergency assistance to informational and non-urgent calls.

Ms Gooding stated that educating the public, especially children, on the importance of the 911 emergency service is a priority for their section since they continue to receive nuisance calls.

The last stops on the minister's tour were the West Bay post offices, where she was joined by Postmaster General Sheena Glasgow and Members of the Legislative Assembly Cline Glidden Jr., Capt. Eugene Ebanks and Rolston Anglin.

At the new West Bay Post Office, the visitors were shown the spacious building that boasts more post boxes than the previous post office. Many of the new boxes are still available for rent.

Ms Glasgow pointed out that the new post office is operational but is awaiting a few finishing touches, including the installation of a public Internet terminal.

Further down the road, the visitors crowded into the small Hell Post Office and gained a better understanding of the tight quarters which the two employees there share with hundreds of tourists everyday. Many tourists stop by Hell Post Office to mail their letters to family and friends with a postmark from "Hell".