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Author Topic: Are ARES and similar groups relying excessively on the internet?  (Read 6844 times)
KK4GMU
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« on: February 26, 2012, 04:33:37 PM »

The advantage of radio in an emergency/disaster scenario is that it requires little or no "middle man technology" like the internet and related infrastructure.

Even repeaters aren't as complex as the internet in terms of operation and repair.

So, a question I pose is this:  Is there excessive reliance newer technoligies that rely on the internet as support infrastructure?  Is there too little reliance on cultivating hams to participate in basic simplex or repeater operation to provide needed communication in a disaster or emergency situation?
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W5LZ
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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2012, 01:06:53 AM »

Typical emergency communications is compensating for/replacing/substituting for a missing 'component' in the normal communications system.  So which 'component' is missing, and why?  As in normal commercial power?  Maybe the telephone lines are down (or cell towers)?  That "compensating for/replacing/substituting" will always mean a step 'sideways' or 'backwards'.  So what happens if the internet access is one of the components you have to 'step around'?  "Ain't no step for a stepper!", but if that stepper can't dance, he's in trouble.  Right?
 - 'Doc
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2012, 05:49:05 AM »

Absolutely no question in my mind that a reliance on the internet WILL come back to bite us on the a$$!!!
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K5LXP
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« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2012, 06:11:50 AM »

I'm not sure what's worse - the hams that think they can show up with an HT and save the day, or show up with a laptop and save the day.  The trend is to create these inordinately top-heavy digital systems (Winlink, DStar, et al) and then come up with scenarios where they'll fit.  Solutions waiting for the right problem to come along.  I will admit though that sitting in front of a computer fits well with the modern sedentary ham.

Frankly, I have more faith in nerds running linux and modified wifi routers to handle the internet stuff.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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K7RBW
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« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2012, 06:38:41 AM »

It's not that Hams are using the Internet, it's that EVERYONE is using it. This makes it a critical piece of infrastructure that will be brought back up as quickly as possible, which means that for most conceivable events, outages will be local and temporary. So saying you shouldn't use the Internet, ever, because it might go down sometime, is crazy talk. At the same time, having (and practicing) manual procedures (e.g. paper forms and simple communications protocols) to use during an outage is essential.

IMO, promoting the notion that only simplex Ham radio technologies are all you should count on in an emergency reduces the credibility of any Ham radio response. In an emergency, you need to adapt quickly to a constantly changing environment. That means being able to use whatever you have that's working. That might mean only simplex FM or it might mean SMS text messages, or it might mean the Internet, and then that could all change in a minute. The key feature to sell is adaptability and mission-focus, not how your handie-talkie don't need no fancy server to work.
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AI8P
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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2012, 09:31:20 AM »

No, they aren't relying "excessively" on the internet, at least not the groups that I work with.

One of the great services of Ham radio during an incident will be to send traffic outside the disaster area, where the "Internet" is still working.   

For example, my group has a major priority on updating the Red Cross Safe & Well website as a form of Health & Welfare traffic handling.   It is very possible that inside the disaster area that will be impossible.  That is why we will be passing H&W traffic outside the area to be used to update the website.  People outside the incident area are getting updates using the Internet everyday.   They are not going to change when they are looking for the status of their loved ones who are in the affected area.  It's a simple case of know your audience.  They will look for status online, so we need to put it there.

On a related issue, I'm not a D-star person, and don't intend to become one, but I understand that hams have always liked to tinker with new technology so I have no problem with that.   I'm just not relying upon it in my county for Emergency Comms.

Dennis
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ONAIR
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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2012, 11:55:27 AM »

Absolutely no question in my mind that a reliance on the internet WILL come back to bite us on the a$$!!!
  When the power grid goes down, the internet, cell towers and repeaters won't do us much good.  Make sure your radios have battery or generator back ups.
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K5UNX
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« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2012, 01:07:20 PM »

I have a toolbox at home. I use different tools for different jobs. Saying we should never use the internet is like saying that I can never use my hammer. Yes it's not suitable for some jobs, but it is useful for others. I see the Internet the same way. It's a tool. What if there is need for emergency communication and the Internet is up and running? Do we ignore it because it's not "Classic" ham radio? That's foolish. I would say be able to use simplex, repeaters, Internet, whatever else is available . .
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K5LXP
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« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2012, 11:52:20 AM »

What if there is need for emergency communication and the Internet is up and running?

"Skype".


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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K1CJS
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« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2012, 09:14:03 AM »

That is one reason why I can't see the intelligence in pushing D-Star for emergency comms.  Without the internet, it is just another means of doing what ham radio does anyway, even if it can handle a data channel in its comm channel. 

Someone ought to rething the role of technology in these things--before some wiseacre thinks him or herself into a corner by mandating all this new technology in simple everyday communications--never mind emergency comms.
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K7RBW
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« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2012, 06:50:23 AM »

I don't know much about D-Star (except that the radios are expensive), but it would seem to fall into the same category as any other Internet-based ham-radio technology. When the Internet is up, you can use the Internet features. When it's not, you're back to simplex-FM.

So, it's not whether or not D-Star uses the Internet, it's whether or not your procedures and plans (that include D-Star) can accommodate falling back to a limited capacity.
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K1CJS
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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2012, 07:17:47 AM »

...So, it's not whether or not D-Star uses the Internet, it's whether or not your procedures and plans (that include D-Star) can accommodate falling back to a limited capacity.

Ah, you're right--but I was referring to the groups that want to be totally reliant on D-Star technology, including accessing the internet for longer distance comms.  That isn't wise at all.
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W5LZ
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« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2012, 09:35:06 AM »

Whoa...
Did anyone say NOT to use the internet ~if it's available~?  The problem is that in some cases it won't be available and you shouldn't count on it being there.  That adaptability really is something to aim for, and that means not counting on any -one- means of communications (since that's what we're talking about).
 - 'Doc
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KK4GMU
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« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2012, 06:33:16 PM »

The concensus opinion appears to favor a balanced approach - a diversity of tools to meet any situation.  Yes, experiment with new technoligy, but don't rely on it as a sole or even a primary means of emergency communications.  Assure that the basic simplex skills remain sharp.  Simplex is to D-Star as pencil and paper is to a keyboard, Windows 8, and a flat screen.

Heck, there may be a time when a pony express or smoke signals might be the fallback.  Who still has skills in these?
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KC2MMI
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« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2012, 04:09:26 PM »

"When the power grid goes down, the internet, cell towers and repeaters won't do us much good."
 Yes and no. I have seen "the grid" go down after major hurricanes, and the cell towers were busy as all heck but cellular service stayed up 48 hours longer than the flooded and fallen phone lines. These days, that means internet service will probably be up as well.

 "The internet" is a global physical network, IT doesn't go down unless the planet blows up. Your local access will go down from time to time. Your ISP will go down from time to time. But "the internet" is an incredibly large and robust device, which never has "gone down" in it's entirety.

 The landlines aren't what they used to be. And part of the post-Katrina discussions resulted in cellco's making reciprocal arrangements, in many areas now whoever has whatever kind of fuel that is deployable, will deploy it to all towers from all carriers, And they've all invested substantial bucks in independent generator backup AT the towers.


Depnd on the internet? Hell no, no one in emcomm depends entirely on any one thing or person or organization. But "the internet" is an incredible tool and only a fool would make plans that didn't provide for using it, when they could. If your local access is down? For the price of a big screen TV you can buy an earth station and get satellite access. And yes, the satellite ISPs and some of the logistics companies have been stocking field-deployable emergency packs, just for that purpose.

Not the only tool, but a handy one to have.
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