Kingston, Jamaica, November 16, 2007: Dr Christopher Tufton, Minister of Agriculture, says greater use must be made of technology, including GIS, to minimise the impact of natural and man-made disasters on the country.
“If we in Jamaica utilise technology more efficiently like GIS to determine where our vulnerable areas were or would likely be in the case of natural elements like rain… we could reduce the impact,” Dr Tufton pointed out at the opening of the GIS Week exhibition at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus.
According to the Agriculture Minister, GIS can be used to map areas that are prone to natural disasters such as flooding. “We can use GIS technology to determine for instance, which areas are more prone to flooding. Some of the places that we see (buildings) being constructed and where housing schemes are being built, are really not appropriate for those type of construction,” he emphasised.
“This is what the technology would allow us to do; it would allow us to say, it is safer to construct our communities in this particular fashion, to build our roads in this particular area, to develop our housing solutions in these areas. We can use this technology to reduce the risks that would occur from various activities man-made or otherwise,” he added.
Pointing to other benefits, Tufton said that GIS technology can be used as a crime-fighting tool. According to him, “It can identify where those activities (crimes) are concentrated, and link those activities to other variables. And therefore provide information so that policy-makers, technocrats or bureaucrats, and community-based organisations can plan activities in order to address a particular problem like crime.”
He also said that GIS can be used in schools to expose students to the practical aspects of society.
“This technology is absolutely fundamental if we are going to prepare a society that will ensure that students can take advantage of the opportunities, the natural and other opportunities that are available to us in Jamaica and those that are also available to us outside of Jamaica,” he said.