TelEm Group, regional Telcos testing disaster management App.

CANTO promoting free innovative software with potential to save lives and assist with economic recovery efforts

St. Maarten telecommunication provider, TelEm Group is joining other Telcos in the Caribbean in the testing phase of a disaster management App that could soon hit the global market.

The App, called SONAR, can make it possible for general populations in the region to receive up-to-the-minute information about upcoming storms and natural disasters, view weather patterns and obtain various information from government and disaster preparedness offices including information about shelters and their state of readiness.

It also advises on recovery efforts after a natural disaster by sending targeted information before, during and after a major incident.

Both users and government can benefit from another feature of the SONAR App that focuses on the recovery effort following any natural disaster with contact information for donations and other supplies that might be needed at the time.

The developers say their App is designed for governments and national disaster organizations to serve the population. The disaster organizations can make use of its additional features including: A Command Center dashboard to centralize all communication centers, customization of the App to conform with local weather systems, Call Center management to assist the public and the ability to not only add new shelters to pending list, but also to inform the public about the occupancy of these shelters in real time.

SONAR is the creation of LXJ CODE Belize, a team of young software developers based in Belize.

The team scooped top prize in the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organizations (CANTO) annual Hackathon C.O.D.E.3 software development competition last year. The contest is open to software developers from all CANTO member countries.

Following months of development work with regional entrepreneurial body, PieData and the Caribbean Emergency Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA), the SONAR team conducted additional trials in their home country Belize. Last week, during CANTO’s 34th AGM in Trinidad and Tobago, the team launched their latest test version of the SONAR App that CANTO’s Telco members will now be using in a controlled test.

TelEm Group’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Kendall Dupersoy, and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Mrs. Helma Etnel, both attended the SONAR presentation in Trinidad and Tobago recently and signed up as a testing partner.

“We can see how an application of this kind can be a very useful tool for our own government’s disaster management team and also for the general public because of the two components of the App. One component features monitoring by the disaster management team, while the other has push notifications that users of the App can utilize to stay informed at all stages of a disaster event from preparation to recovery,” said Mr. Dupersoy.

Mr. Dupersoy said TelEm Group and other Telcos will test the App and report back to Piedata so that any fine-tuning can be carried out with the development team before final presentations are made to governments and disaster management organizations throughout the region. The developers hope to take their work global by customizing the Apps features for different geographical areas and globally specific natural disasters.

CFO, Mrs. Helma Etnel, says she is very excited and proud of TelEm Group’s involvement in this testing phase. She believes the success of this regionally conceived and developed App can have a significant impact on the way potential disasters are prepared for, tracked and managed to the benefit of St.Maarten and entire populations and economies in the Caribbean, and later on, further afield.


“We should be very proud that such an App is being development in our own back yard,” said Mrs. Etnel, who sees this as encouragement for St. Maarten’s own developers to build their own apps for submission to future CANTO CODE competitions.

“I recall that on St. Maarten we were also slow to enter various CANTO competitions at the start, but once we started competing, it seemed like St. Maarten was winning one of the top prizes quite often. And so I believe it will be for future Hackathon CODE coding contests,” said Mrs. Etnel.

The TelEm Group executives say they will be speaking to government and St.Maarten’s local disaster management group about the new App and its possibilities once their own tests are completed and they receive the nod from the developers, CANTO and Piedata to take the current tests to the next phase.