The Mission was able to identify that access to and use of space-based information for a variety of purposes is not new in Jamaica. Several public and private institutions (such as the Forestry Department, The Mines and Geology Division (MGD), the Water Resource Authority (WRA), the Rural Physical Planning Division (RPPD), and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA)) have accessed space-based data to generate useful information which is finding its way into sectoral development plans.
In 2001 a complete dataset of the IKONOS satellite imagery was acquired covering most of Jamaica. Many representatives of institutions are aware of the existence of the IKONOS 2001 imagery as well as other existing resources such as ASTER and Landsat imagery, and have made use of such information for a variety of purposes.
Recognizing the value of space based information, the Government of Jamaica has enacted policies to promote the generation and use of space based information to reduce the impact of natural phenomena such as hurricanes, floods or landslides.
In the context of geospatial information management, the Office for Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has been able to secure the voluntary cooperation of staff from a variety of institutions that have skills on the use of Geographical Information Systems. This National Emergency Response GIS Team (NERGIST) conducts activities in the EOC whenever a disaster impacts the country.
ODPEM has also established the Hazard Management Group which has been preparing hazard maps. ODPEM is now conducting efforts to harmonize mapping efforts so that individual hazard maps can be combined particularly in those geographical regions which are exposed to multiple hazards simultaneously. The Group includes the Met Service, WRA, MGD, the Forestry Department, and the Earthquake Unit.
The National Spatial Data Infrastructure for Jamaica was established to facilitate the sharing of geo-spatial data and information among agencies of the government and the private sector. A geo-portal and metadata portal are currently being operated and further developed by the NSDMD to facilitate access to such information.
There are inter-institutional settings which have been set up by ODPEM to target efforts in the segments of disaster-risk reduction and emergency response.
Jamaica already disposes of a proper infrastructure for capacity building. A training center (including of computer laboratory) is operated under the auspices of the Land Information Council of Jamaica / National Spatial Data Management Division, under the Office of the Prime Minister.
In the particular context of space-based information, ODPEM is aware of the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters, and has tried requesting activations on two occasions in 2007 and 2008, but with somewhat unsuccessful results. In 2009, ODPEM began to take part in the Caribbean Flood Project, an initiative coordinated by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and the National Air and Space Administration of the United States (NASA). This initiative promotes the use of space-based information for flood-early warning, vulnerability assessment of banana crops for exportation, and wetlands in Jamaica.