KINGSTOWN, St Vincent and the Grenadines – The threat of climate-driven natural disaster and the struggle to keep pace with the global digital economy are among the key factors driving the need for Caribbean Internet stakeholders to strengthen the resilience of the region’s communications networks.

The term ‘resilience’ refers to a network’s ability to maintain an acceptable level of service in the face of a range of threats, such as technical misconfiguration, natural disasters or targeted attacks. In the Caribbean, where several nations are susceptible to extreme weather events or natural disasters, the importance of network resilience has come into sharp focus.

“In today’s world, the security, resilience and robustness of computer networks are critical to the development of the digital economy,” said Bevil Wooding, Caribbean Outreach Liaison at the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), a US-based not-for-profit organisation responsible for Internet number resource management.

Wooding, who is also the Strategic Information and Communications Technology Advisor for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission, emphasized the importance of the issue as he addressed regional officials at the 36th Executive Council meeting of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), held in St Vincent and the Grenadines late last month.

“The Caribbean can no longer afford to leave important decisions about network buildout, network resource management and network infrastructure spend only to commercial telecommunications providers. Those issues are now the concern and the responsibility of governments, private network operators and even end users,” he said.

Dr Didacus Jules, Director General of the OECS Commission, pointed out that the devastating 2017 Atlantic hurricane season heightened the need to boost the resilience of regional communications infrastructure.

“As a region, we must have a clear, strategic approach to building out Internet infrastructure to drive business innovation and economic development,” he said.

Jules warned that the global economy will become increasingly unforgiving to regions with failing, outdated or unsecured technology.

“If we do not act with urgency to address this, the impact on our economic and social development can be more devastating than last season’s hurricanes.”

Wooding added that a number of collaborative initiatives are already underway in the region. The CTU recently empanelled a special commission to identify actionable recommendations for improving Caribbean network resilience. And a meeting of the Caribbean Network Operators Group, to be held in Miami this month, will focus on building technical capacity in computer network design, management and security.