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Old October 26th 11, 02:18 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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On 10/24/2011 11:35 PM, Patty Winter wrote:
In , Steve wrote:

Developments in technology have reduced the need for what we can offer.
Mother Nature still reminds us that our fine technology is at her
pleasure, but not often. Hurricane Katrina illustrated the frailty of
modern communications, but it also illustrated how things have changed
in the role of ham radio in disasters.


At a panel discussion about the future of amateur radio at Pacificon
(the ARRL Pacific Division convention) a couple of weeks ago, I was
struck by the fact that all four speakers--including officials well
informed about both national and international trends--said that
hams will soon play almost no role in disaster communications. I knew
that other services were getting stronger, but I didn't realize that
the prospects were going to change that dramatically for us that soon.
[snip]
But there was also discussion of satellite phones that can be set up
in minutes basically by pressing a button, and of on-the-fly data
networks.


The hardest part of keeping our hobby relevant is that we must admit
there is sometimes nothing we can do. Elected officials are much more
likely to spend money for commercial solutions recommended by their
subordinates, than for a volunteer force they cannot quantify or inventory.

Sometimes we get help from emergency responders: municipal budget
battles are harder-fought now, and civil servants are more receptive to
the idea of "free" help, but hams have to be realistic about what is
possible and what is not, and there are too many among us (I was once
one) who feel that we're an irreplaceable link in a communications chain
that no longer exists. It's up to us to adapt to the system that is in
use now, and to become a part of that system which its "owners" grow to
depend on. Once we earn that trust, we'll have allies in higher places,
but there's a lot of catching up to do before that happens.

From what I heard at the convention, the best hope for helping amateur
radio thrive is getting back to its roots of innovation--in particular,
by getting hams involved with the Maker movement (and vice versa). In
fact, I think the League has something up its sleeve about that. If it
works, it could help keep us in the good graces of those who dish out
frequencies and make rules about antennas.


I know little about the "Maker movement": according to Wikipedia, it's a
Do-It-Yourself paradigm that has a magazine at its center. I applaud the
concept, but I'm old enough to be cautious when counting chickens that
haven't yet hatched, and I hope that those in charge of keeping our
society intact after a disaster are hard-nosed about what is possible
and what is not.

As much as I might like to fantasize about being the ham who saves the
day by making a homebrew rig work with homemade batteries, I know that
the last thing any disaster preparedness professional wants is a single
point of failure, be it man or machine. It's nice to watch someone make
a cabinet on TV and think "I could do that", but it's quite another to
hold a router or to arrange a dovetail fence: it's important to have a
"can do" attitude, but we need to bring "we already did that" experience
to the table as well.

In the past, long-distance disaster communications meant you had to have
ham operators. Those days are gone: planning or preparing for a day when
hams have to do-it-all-ourselves is self-defeating, because it invites
both criticism of our capabilities and hard questions about whether
we're trying to be members of a team or "Lone Rangers" out to grab a lot
of glory and ride off into the sunset.

I'm sorry to be so blunt, but I think our hobby is still in the "Denial"
phase of dealing with this crisis. We need to accept that the
communications world has changed, and adapt ourselves to the current
technologies and the current methods before we'll be taken seriously again.

Bill, W1AC

--
Bill Horne
(Remove QRM from my address to write to me directly)


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Old October 26th 11, 04:13 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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On 10/25/2011 8:18 PM, Bill Horne wrote:

In the past, long-distance disaster communications meant you had to have
ham operators. Those days are gone:


As I see how Amateurs are currently looked at by public safety people:

The cost, both in materials and in time for public safety spectrum
is very high. The amateur bands are a ready pool of "FREE spectrum"
if it's approached correctly.

The same holds true for full time employees for "just in case."
And Amateurs are a ready pool of "FREE employees" as the need
arises.

Now, here's where the problem lies.

ESPECIALLY in the event of an emergency. The health and law
enforcement types do NOT want some fool running around thinking
he's a cop. (Or a paramedic). Nor do they want to deal with some
buffoon that's really proud of the "kit" he's thrown together
out of cobbled swap meet leftovers. And they most certainly do
NOT want people with ego problems.

What they want are people that follow instructions, that have
RELIABLE equipment and if it's a group of people, that
they can all work together as a team.

Jeff-1.0
wa6fwi

--
"Everything from Crackers to Coffins"

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Old October 26th 11, 05:48 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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In article , Bill Horne wrote:
On 10/24/2011 11:35 PM, Patty Winter wrote:

From what I heard at the convention, the best hope for helping amateur
radio thrive is getting back to its roots of innovation--in particular,
by getting hams involved with the Maker movement (and vice versa). In
fact, I think the League has something up its sleeve about that. If it
works, it could help keep us in the good graces of those who dish out
frequencies and make rules about antennas.


I know little about the "Maker movement": according to Wikipedia, it's a
Do-It-Yourself paradigm that has a magazine at its center.


I think there is a magazine, but the heart of the movement is the
independent workshops across the country. My friend Wayne, KH6WZ,
had an interesting article about the Maker community and its
implications for amateur radio in last May's _CQ_.


As much as I might like to fantasize about being the ham who saves the
day by making a homebrew rig work with homemade batteries,


I was changing subjects there. I wasn't talking about the Maker
community in regards to emergency communications, but rather to
technical innovation. As I noted, we're needed less and less in
the former, but I think we still have a lot to offer for the latter.


I'm sorry to be so blunt, but I think our hobby is still in the "Denial"
phase of dealing with this crisis. We need to accept that the
communications world has changed, and adapt ourselves to the current
technologies and the current methods before we'll be taken seriously again.


It's happening. We've got people in the amateur radio community who
are professionals in developing networking protocols, weak-signal
detection software, etc. etc. They're developing software for amateur
radio as well as commercial and research applications. Other hams can
get involved with projects like those.


Patty

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Old October 26th 11, 06:00 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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On Tue, 25 Oct 2011 23:13:07 EDT, Jeffrey Angus
wrote:

What they want are people that follow instructions, that have
RELIABLE equipment and if it's a group of people, that
they can all work together as a team.


Add to that individuals or a team that has been trained in the needs
of that agency and been vetted by the agency as suitable. As I keep
saying, no one gets into our EOC without agency ID.
--

73 de K2ASP - Phil Kane

From a Clearing in the Silicon Forest

Beaverton (Washington County) Oregon

e-mail: k2asp [at] arrl [dot] net

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Old October 26th 11, 02:50 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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On Oct 24, 2:37 pm, Phil Kane wrote:
On Mon, 24 Oct 2011 11:27:41 EDT, Steve Bonine wrote:
Hurricane Katrina illustrated the frailty of
modern communications, but it also illustrated how things have changed
in the role of ham radio in disasters. We no longer are a significant
carrier of health and welfare traffic.


Or a backup for public safety or other "commercial" communications.


(The following, while just opinion, is probably a major heresy.)

And that minor role is just fine. in the last ten years or so, there
has been a major attempt to mutate amateur radio into some sort of
official adjunct to emergency communications.

And let's just say it has had mixed success. We were looking at
background checks, including financial. While the financial part was
dropped, it surely set the tone. The emergency types came in fast and
hard, and they had no illusions that Amateur Radio was anything else
but emergency ops - and if grudging acceptance was afforded,
acknowledged that some Hams messed with unimportant stuff like
contesting, DX, ane electronic design. But they "knew" exactly what
Ham radio was for, and I always caught the undercurrent that they
thought most of us were a bit foolish. We still get a lot of that in
the discourse. I sat at meetings where some guy from some emergency
outfit comes in and tells us that since by nature, everything they do
is a matter of life and death, therefore it's always an emergency,
that they have unrestricted priority over our repeater system.
Basically that our repeater system was now theirs. He was wrong of
course, but that's my point. There are people out there who think that
way.

A local Ham wastrying for a radio check to see if his HT was making
it into one of our repeater satellite voting relays a few weeks ago.
One of the emergency Op types came back to him, and told him he was
coming in okay. Then the testing Ham moved, and his signal got a
little scratchy. The EO guy noted the dropoff in clarity, the testing
Ham said that it was just his HT he had in case of emergencies. Well,
that started the ball rolling. The Emergency guy starts to deliver a 5
minute lecture to the other Ham about how people shouldn't be using
HT's for much of anything. The testing Ham noted that he already had a
sufficiently powerful setup. But the Emergency Op wasn't done yet. He
went on another tirade noting that although he'd only been a Ham for a
very short time, his job was to show other Hams that they were
technically pretty backwards, and even the older Hams, because it was
his "experience" that older Hams just didnn't keep up. He ended with
some bizarre comment about how he thinks that his pointing out other
peoples shortcomings makes the world a better place. I thought I'd
have a little fun with him. I called in, and noted that it was good to
have a technically astute Ham on the air, then tried to involve him in
a discussion of the technical aspects of our repeater. Turned out the
limits of his techical abilities were to get a 50 watt radio, put up a
J-Pole, and mash the PTT button. But we can compre anecdotes all day.

Then emergency employees were getting technician licenses as an end-
around to get employees using the radio instead of volunteers.
Unfortunately, many of the employees thought that the amateur
frequencies were a sort of back channel for their use. Many were
disappointed to find that we had some rules and restrictions.

As far as I am concerned, the role of Hams in an emergency situation
is that if there is a Ham in the area where the disaster is, he or she
might use their station to relay messages into areas that might be
coordinating help. That's enough.

The idea that we provide someone to fill a seat at an EC is sort of
illogical anyhow. Why would the EC not have a trained professional in
that seat? Are all the others there unpaid volunteers? If I were
running one of these places, I'd have someone filling that seat that I
was a supervisor over.



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Old October 26th 11, 05:17 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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On Mon, 24 Oct 2011 16:39:32 EDT, (Dave Platt)
wrote:

I have the good fortune to live in a city (and county) which has some
very effective arrangements of that sort. We *have* been called out
by the county on at least one occasion in the past few years, to serve
as backup communicators for the police/fire infrastructure (somebody
sabotaged several fiber-optic cables and knocked out all of the
telephones and cellphones in south Santa Clara County back in 2009).
I still have a very nice thank-you letter from the city manager of
Morgan Hill.


My ARES/RACES group also has a good relationship with our county.
I live in Nye County, NV, third largest county area-wise in the
contiguous USA (18,159 square miles, larger than a couple of US
states), but with very low population (43,946). Our ARES/RACES group
is well integrated with the county Emergency Management Department.
And we have proven our worth: A few winters ago in January, our
largest town Pahrump (pop: 36,441) experienced a town-wide electric
outage that lasted for over 12 hours after some hunters shot down the
main transmission line into town. The communications systems of the
sheriff, fire department, and even the electric company ran on AC
power with no backup. ARES was asked to step in. We shadowed
officials and manned emergency shelters using our battery- and
solar-powered radios and repeater to reestablish communications.

In other joint exercises, we have shown that we could get a message
through when they couldn't.

The county even buys us radio equipment. Three VHF/UHF and one HF
transceivers along with antennas at the main Emergency Operations
Center (EOC) in Pahrump, as well as in 2 other smaller towns. Our two
mountain-top repeaters are located in the county's equipment shelters
and use their towers.

They let us use the training room in the EOC for our meetings and
training. And we do train regularly. We also hold our Amateur radio
exam sessions in that room. The ARES Emergency Coordinator and his
assistant have keys to the building.

And, getting back to our original topic of HOAs and CC&Rs, most of our
the developments are free of any restrictions on ham antennas. Mostly,
they just deal with set-backs and minimum size of structures. Another
good reason to live in a rural community!

Dick Grady, AC7EL

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Old October 26th 11, 07:59 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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In article ,
Jeffrey Angus wrote:

Now, here's where the problem lies.

ESPECIALLY in the event of an emergency. The health and law
enforcement types do NOT want some fool running around thinking
he's a cop. (Or a paramedic). Nor do they want to deal with some
buffoon that's really proud of the "kit" he's thrown together
out of cobbled swap meet leftovers. And they most certainly do
NOT want people with ego problems.

What they want are people that follow instructions, that have
RELIABLE equipment and if it's a group of people, that
they can all work together as a team.


Yup. That's how I see it from here.

One of the big changes in the emergency-response community, over the
past couple of decades, has been the development of some standardized
organization techniques for emergency responders. As I understand it,
a lot of these changes grew out of what was learned in California
during the response to the Oakland Hills fire in 1991. To put it
simply, that event was a Charlie Foxtrot - lots of official emergency
responders were activated, from a large number of jurisdictions, and
they had a *terrible* time working together under emergency conditions.

This was due to a number of factors. Different jurisdictional groups
(e.g. city fire, county fire, state, etc.) had different
organizational structures (who-reports-to-whom) with different job
titles and job descriptions, they referred to their firefighting
equipment with different terms (or sometimes with the same term, which
meant very different things to different groups), and they had no
agreement in advance as to who would be commanding whom. There were
multiple different chains-of-command, with each new group trying to
coordinate itself with numerous others. Add a large dash of
"incompatible radio systems and protocols" to this, and what resulted
was a recipe for serious confusion and ineffective use of resources.
I believe it's generally accepted that people died unnecessarily,
because the emergency responders weren't able to work together as
efficiently as was needed.

What has come out of this is a reliance on the Incident Command System
structure (California has its Standardized Emergency Management System
variant, and the Feds have the National Incident Management System).
A big part of this involves using a standard command-and-reporting
structure, and standardized (pre-defined) sets of resources, which can
include communications teams. This way, if one jurisdiction needs
some communicators, they can ask another jurisdiction for one or more
teams of various types, and have confidence that they can know the
capabilities and limits of those teams pretty reliably.

Around our county, anybody who wants to be part of ARES/RACES, and
actually be deployable even in their own local jurisdiction, is
expected/required to be trained in ICS (we have some state-certified
instructors who teach classes periodically). Anyone who wants to be
deployable outside their own city (a "Mutual Aid Communicator") has to
take further instruction in ICS and emergency response (FEMA has some
good on-line courses, available for free) and must be qualified by
their city EC as having sufficient training and experience, and a
suitable "Go Kit" of radio equipment and personal supplies to allow
for safe and successful deployment.

We've got an advanced training program for our MACs, in which they can
demonstrate their qualification for specific sorts of deployment...
Field assignment, Net Control positions, Shadowing, Packet, and so
forth.

As a result, if a city asks for communication aid, and says that they
need field operators for deployment at a dozen shelters and fire
stations, and Net Control operators for two or three tactical and
resource nets, we can deploy people that we *know* can do the job
(individually and as part of a team), because they've already
demonstrated that ability. The various city and county Emergency
Managers appreciate this!

Hams who show up "spontaneously", during an emergency, saying "I have
a radio and I want to help"... well, most likely they'll be treated
like any other volunteer of unknown capabilities and reliability.
They'll be sent down the street to the "convergent volunteer" center
for classification and possible assignment, just like any other
helpful citizen who showed up and (e.g.) offered to fill sand-bags
during a flood. If we don't know them, we can't depend on them in a
pinch.

At best, they might be sent out as a secondary-support operator, to
serve alongside one or more trained and qualified team members. In
our city, at least, we would *not* send out an unknown operator by
him/herself.

All of this organization and training takes work - often a lot of it -
well in advance of any emergency. If we want to actually be
effective, and able to help, it's *necessary*.

http://www.scc-ares-races.org/ has a lot of information on our
programs... the "Mutual Aid Communicator" pages probably have the best
discussion of our training process.

--
Dave Platt AE6EO
Friends of Jade Warrior home page: http://www.radagast.org/jade-warrior
I do _not_ wish to receive unsolicited commercial email, and I will
boycott any company which has the gall to send me such ads!

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