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Author Topic: Is E-Comm a fallacy?  (Read 16482 times)
KG4RUL
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« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2017, 09:55:55 AM »

The reality is that Amateur "E-Comm" is split:

99+++% local public service traffic

<<<1% emergency communications
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KK5JY
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Posts: 81




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« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2017, 12:49:53 PM »

I have not yet met an emcomm group that provided positive benefit, or is even positioned to provide positive benefit, should official communication systems fail.  I'm not saying they can't, but I haven't yet seen one that does.  In fact, when I last talked to a representative of the local emcomm group here, their volunteers had all been moved to LMR-band radio systems, and they are now managed by a local government department that is itself an arm of the local law enforcement department.

The officially-sanctioned emcomm organizations appear to be hold-overs from the cold war.  Back before local hams became dependent on repeaters, there probably was a substantial function that hams could play in coordinating relief efforts that would become needed if the US and USSR decided to dance.  But that never happened, and so emcomm in that form became obsolete.  Then came 9/11, and all kinds of money spent on new comm systems for the first-responders and local governments, and now hams are not only not needed, they are not wanted.  The roles that would have been filled by hams under civil emergency management (and before that, civil defense) have been filled with professionals paid with federal money.

It looks like we are headed towards cold war 2.0, and in that conflict, the hams won't be a part of any official structure.  If the US and Russia decide to dance this time, the hams will probably do some kind of service after the event, but it will only be because (and if) all the fancy comm systems installed using post-9/11 homeland security grants all fail, and the first responders are so overwhelmed that they just cease to function.  In that scenario, the hams will likely provide some basic functions, especially in regions where there are many HF-active hams who can NVIS to each other, and coordinate ad hoc groups of unofficial relief efforts

If FCC wants to leave "emergency communications" in their rules, and ARRL wants to put that as a tag line in all their requests for rule-making, fine.  But the truth is that hams are no longer seen as a substantial asset for emergency communications as a service.  And if anyone doubts that, just look at the ongoing argument over 60m.  NTIA wants that spaces so they can have NVIS and after-sunset frequencies for real emergency comms.  The hams say they want it for the same reason.  And look who keeps winning that argument.
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K4AMK
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« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2017, 03:47:28 PM »

The answer to Emcomm might be "hams - yes, ham radio - no".  At a recent hamfest I stopped at the booth for a state defense force that supports the national guard.  They were interested in hams, not because their people don't know how to use a radio, but because they needed the knowledge of people who could overcome problems when their HF comms weren't connecting (re-orienting antennas, etc) . 
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KJ4RWH
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« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2017, 07:17:57 AM »

I will never forget the date. July 20, 1969. A very powerful storm was forecast to hit the high ridge country of Tennessee. I was alone at the 104" telescope maintained by the University of Tennessee. We lost power at 23:30 hours and the backup diesel failed to start due to weak starter battery. The University VHF radio was 110V operation only. The only radio was my personal 2 meter handi-talki. My broken telescoping antenna couldn't hit the repeater. I carry a spool of 40 gauge magnet wire in my chest pocket and quickly calculated on my slide rule for a 4 element cubical quad. I harvested the spreaders from a bamboo patch outside and assembled the frame with my shoe laces for lashing. Not knowing how long my batteries would last, I sent my first and most critical message, "2 gallons of whole milk in refrigerator and Tommy Duggin's Cricket farm. Power lost, please advise". I received a reply, "use manual crank to close telescope dome, release crickets and enjoy milk, in that order". The power was on when I awoke from exhaustion (I weigh 410 lbs and collapsed after returning from the cricket release) Just another day for the diligent radio operator. I told my ham buddies, (who wanted me to run for club prez) that if nominated I will not run, If elected I will not serve. I like being one of the little guys. 10-4 good buddy!
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KK4GGL
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« Reply #19 on: February 27, 2017, 08:27:01 AM »

If FCC wants to leave "emergency communications" in their rules, and ARRL wants to put that as a tag line in all their requests for rule-making, fine.  But the truth is that hams are no longer seen as a substantial asset for emergency communications as a service. 
The Director of FEMA disagrees with you, as do other federal and national agencies.
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73,
Rick KK4GGL
WB6BYU
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« Reply #20 on: February 27, 2017, 04:29:18 PM »

Quote from: KK5JY

I have not yet met an emcomm group that provided positive benefit, or is even positioned to provide positive benefit, should official communication systems fail.  I'm not saying they can't, but I haven't yet seen one that does...




I've been a member of groups like that, too.  There certainly are some that seem to serve as little more
than a second ham club meeting each month, with the same cast of characters telling the same stories
or having the same arguments.

It's hard work building a committed emcom group, especially since everyone hopes there will never be
a local disaster where their skills will be needed.  It isn't just about having a radio and being able to
talk to someone across town on it.  It takes committed volunteers, a good training plan, high
expectations, regular practices, and a willingness to try new things, and especially a competent leader
who can pull it all together while maintaining good rapport with the served agencies and the members. 
And, like so many other emergence response organizations, the members need to check their egos at
the door:  it's not about being a hero, but about working as a team to accomplish a goal.

It takes commitment, motivation, and often a good swift kick in the seat of the problem to
encourage the transition from just a social club to an effective team.

But it does happen, at least in some places, and rather than bellyaching about how few groups
are competent, perhaps we need instead to focus more on those groups that are, what we can learn
from them, and begin a discussion about how we can move more groups in that direction.


The last feedback I heard from FEMA after a recent exercise was, "We want more ham operators,
and better trained ones."
  I'm working on the training side with a Field Antenna Workshop, while
others are working on a long list of other topics.  We're also looking at how we can share those
trainings with other groups around the State, particularly in more remote areas.


And maybe we'll never have another earthquake, volcanic eruption, flooding, wind storm, or forest fire
that requires  hams to provide communications assistance.  But looking at how many of the government
agencies at all levels manage to use the resources they have, it doesn't exactly fill me with confidence
that all their fancy systems will actually remain operational.
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K1CJS
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« Reply #21 on: February 27, 2017, 08:02:11 PM »

If FCC wants to leave "emergency communications" in their rules, and ARRL wants to put that as a tag line in all their requests for rule-making, fine.  But the truth is that hams are no longer seen as a substantial asset for emergency communications as a service.  
The Director of FEMA disagrees with you, as do other federal and national agencies.

That could be summed up in one word--politics.  Would you tell a large group that has resources that could be used in an emergency that they're not going to be considered as a standby group?  

The simple truth is that yes, those groups and agencies say hams are needed, but will not use them until they really, absolutely need them.  Another truth is that hams are needed in rural and sparsely populated areas much more than in urban areas.

Yes, we're told we're needed but when we actually are needed, we're needed elsewhere (families and personally) for the simple reason the sh*t has really hit the fan and things are falling apart.  The only time that has happened recently is 9-11 in New York City.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2017, 08:06:47 PM by K1CJS » Logged
KK4GGL
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Posts: 1293




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« Reply #22 on: February 28, 2017, 05:55:39 AM »

If FCC wants to leave "emergency communications" in their rules, and ARRL wants to put that as a tag line in all their requests for rule-making, fine.  But the truth is that hams are no longer seen as a substantial asset for emergency communications as a service.  
The Director of FEMA disagrees with you, as do other federal and national agencies.

That could be summed up in one word--politics.  Would you tell a large group that has resources that could be used in an emergency that they're not going to be considered as a standby group?  
Which is why they are included in many state emergency exercises and have stations in many county and state EOCs.
The simple truth is that yes, those groups and agencies say hams are needed, but will not use them until they really, absolutely need them.
No? Really? Emergency management doesn't use hams for day to day communications? Really? /sarcasm.
No duh...
 Another truth is that hams are needed in rural and sparsely populated areas much more than in urban areas.
Which is why they were used in NY for Sandy and New Orleans for Katrina.
Yes, we're told we're needed but when we actually are needed, we're needed elsewhere (families and personally) for the simple reason the sh*t has really hit the fan and things are falling apart.  The only time that has happened recently is 9-11 in New York City.
You need to look around more.
Matthew went up the east coast 5 months ago.
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73,
Rick KK4GGL
ONAIR
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« Reply #23 on: February 28, 2017, 11:14:49 AM »

If FCC wants to leave "emergency communications" in their rules, and ARRL wants to put that as a tag line in all their requests for rule-making, fine.  But the truth is that hams are no longer seen as a substantial asset for emergency communications as a service.  
The Director of FEMA disagrees with you, as do other federal and national agencies.

That could be summed up in one word--politics.  Would you tell a large group that has resources that could be used in an emergency that they're not going to be considered as a standby group?  

The simple truth is that yes, those groups and agencies say hams are needed, but will not use them until they really, absolutely need them.  Another truth is that hams are needed in rural and sparsely populated areas much more than in urban areas.

Yes, we're told we're needed but when we actually are needed, we're needed elsewhere (families and personally) for the simple reason the sh*t has really hit the fan and things are falling apart.  The only time that has happened recently is 9-11 in New York City.
  Good point!  And when an extremely serious emergency situation DOES occur (major earthquake, hurricane, flood, power grid meltdown, or even an act of war) you can be certain that they will all be clamoring for as much help as they can possibly get from the amateur radio community!
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K1CJS
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« Reply #24 on: March 02, 2017, 07:58:09 PM »

 Another truth is that hams are needed in rural and sparsely populated areas much more than in urban areas.
Which is why they were used in NY for Sandy and New Orleans for Katrina.
Yes, we're told we're needed but when we actually are needed, we're needed elsewhere (families and personally) for the simple reason the sh*t has really hit the fan and things are falling apart.  The only time that has happened recently is 9-11 in New York City.
You need to look around more.
Matthew went up the east coast 5 months ago.

OK.  Point taken.  My reference, however, was about degree as in the disasters of 9-11 versus a weather situation.  Sure, we've all done skywarn reporting and message passing, but the REAL emergency messages weren't passed by hams.  Other than situation reports, I doubt that the situation that "Matthew" caused knocked out official communications channels the same way the disaster of 9-11 did.
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KK4GGL
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« Reply #25 on: March 03, 2017, 05:06:40 AM »

 Another truth is that hams are needed in rural and sparsely populated areas much more than in urban areas.
Which is why they were used in NY for Sandy and New Orleans for Katrina.
Yes, we're told we're needed but when we actually are needed, we're needed elsewhere (families and personally) for the simple reason the sh*t has really hit the fan and things are falling apart.  The only time that has happened recently is 9-11 in New York City.
You need to look around more.
Matthew went up the east coast 5 months ago.

OK.  Point taken.  My reference, however, was about degree as in the disasters of 9-11 versus a weather situation.  Sure, we've all done skywarn reporting and message passing, but the REAL emergency messages weren't passed by hams.  Other than situation reports, I doubt that the situation that "Matthew" caused knocked out official communications channels the same way the disaster of 9-11 did.
I was referencing degrees in disasters, also. The actual physical damage in 9-11 was limited to a small area in New York city, but the effects were felt in a much wider area. As for the REAL emergency messages weren't passed by hams, you might want to tell that to Emergency Management in Louisiana (Katrina), New York (Sandy) the east coast (Matthew) the western, mid-western states and Florida (wild fires), the participants in search and rescue and others.
According to Craig Fugate (Director of FEMA):
"... “we get so sophisticated and we have gotten so used to the reliability and resilience in our wireless and wired and our broadcast industry and all of our public safety communications, that we can never fathom that they’ll fail. They do. They have. They will. I think a strong Amateur Radio community [needs to be] plugged into these plans. Yes, most of the time they’re going be bored, because a lot of the time, there’s not a lot they’re going to be doing that other people aren’t doing with Twitter and Facebook and everything else. But when you need Amateur Radio, you really need them.”
"I think that there is a tendency because we have done so much to build infrastructure and resiliency in all our other systems, we have tended to dismiss that role ‘When Everything Else Fails.’ Amateur Radio oftentimes is our last line of defense.”
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Rick KK4GGL
W4KYR
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« Reply #26 on: March 03, 2017, 08:10:46 AM »






As for the REAL emergency messages weren't passed by hams, you might want to tell that to Emergency Management in Louisiana (Katrina), New York (Sandy) the east coast (Matthew) the western, mid-western states and Florida (wild fires), the participants in search and rescue and others.
According to Craig Fugate (Director of FEMA):
"... “we get so sophisticated and we have gotten so used to the reliability and resilience in our wireless and wired and our broadcast industry and all of our public safety communications, that we can never fathom that they’ll fail. They do. They have. They will. I think a strong Amateur Radio community [needs to be] plugged into these plans. Yes, most of the time they’re going be bored, because a lot of the time, there’s not a lot they’re going to be doing that other people aren’t doing with Twitter and Facebook and everything else. But when you need Amateur Radio, you really need them.”
"I think that there is a tendency because we have done so much to build infrastructure and resiliency in all our other systems, we have tended to dismiss that role ‘When Everything Else Fails.’ Amateur Radio oftentimes is our last line of defense.”


 Packet radio is still an excellent emergency communications tool and it is a shame that it is very under utilized these days. Hams who have packet can access the latest information in seconds. Files with lists of needed emergency supplies can be bought up to anyone's screen in mere seconds. Pictures of flooded out areas can be bought up and seen by anyone connected to the packet network in just mere moments. Pictures of hurricane or earthquake damaged areas can be sent or received and seen instantly or can be forwarded to other networks or to authorities in an split second.

Not many hams are aware that today packet radio isn't some ancient relic from the 1990's, but rather is still very much alive and flourishing. Florida is just one of many examples of having a thriving and well connected network. Their extensive packet radio network runs from Tallahassee all the way to Miami covering half of Florida's counties with fifty nodes on 145.770 and that is just in within the state.

http://www.fla-sedan.com/

Beyond Florida, the network actually covers the East Coast with  800 miles all the way to near Washington DC and is the world’s largest contiguous network of its kind.

http://www.fla-sedan.com/policies.html

Here is their 'how to" page.

http://www.fla-sedan.com/sedanhowto.html

" Florida SEDAN

"Saving Lives and Protecting Property through Amateur Radio Digital Communications." 

System Operating Guidelines and Practices


Most organizations have RULES to guide the actions of the individuals that make up the body. Each time the organization grows larger, so does the responsibility of the members that make up the organization. Currently the SEDAN has over 100 2-meter nodes extending from near Washington DC to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, and from the Eastern coast of the United States inland about 800 miles. SEDAN SNO’s have also established more than 35 six-meter, 9600-baud backbone nodes to the network. This makes the SEDAN the world’s largest contiguous network of its kind.

The SEDAN supports the following standards and practices as user guidelines. They are in the form of an “agreement” among the 145.770 MHz. system operators and users. These agreements are simple and not meant to be RULES; however, we do hope that each system user or member will support them with a common sense approach.

General Operating Rules

    Use of any full service BBS or a full access PAKET program/BBS is not permitted under agreement with the coordinating committee of the States where SEDAN is established. BBS forwarding is considered malicious interference on 145.770 MHz as emergency operations could be hampered by colliding data.

    Only personal mailboxes are used, and message content and size is maintained under 500 bytes or 80 columns wide and 7 lines. Mailbox space is limited to 128 Kbytes. A Message should be of a personal nature. Messages that are bulletin or to ALLUS should be placed on a full service BBS on the full-service BBS frequencies.

    DX spotting traffic on 145.770 MHz is not permitted under agreement(s) within the States of coordination. TCP/IP NOS stations should use those frequencies set aside for NOS use.

    Prime-time is defined as 5 PM until 11 PM EST. This is a period when high keyboard traffic activity may be observed. It is the concern of the SEDAN System Node Operator (SNO), however, that some users may find a need to transfer messages over 1 kb in length; should this need arise, please observe the 5 PM to 11 PM time period and refrain from passing long files during this period. Maintain PACLen at 128 or less. It is our goal to provide a dependable means of keyboard to keyboard and emergency communications, and long file transfers could compromise the effectiveness of the network in an emergency .

    Beacons tend to create excessive traffic on the frequency. Users who are new to the SEDAN may wish to set the Beacon time to 255, or to the longest period possible. After a few days of beacons, there should be no purpose to beacon, as most users in the new user’s area will have observed his/her presence. To operate in the best interest of the SEDAN system, please set your beacons to 0 (zero) or OFF. This is a courtesy we offer to each other so that you may enjoy the same benefits as other users.

    Only gateways that support communications between the SEDAN and the associated SEDAN high-speed backbone(s) may be employed. All other such bridges will be ACL’d from access or use.

 "



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KK4GGL
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« Reply #27 on: March 03, 2017, 10:17:52 AM »

Unfortunately, FL SEDAN  doesn't exist much below the I-4 corridor and many of the nodes are not reachable at the moment. I don't think any of the SEDAN networks outside of FL are accessible from FL. If they are, I'd like to know how to reach them. The local SEDAN node is literally across the street from me.
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Rick KK4GGL
W4KYR
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« Reply #28 on: March 03, 2017, 01:23:07 PM »

Unfortunately, FL SEDAN  doesn't exist much below the I-4 corridor and many of the nodes are not reachable at the moment. I don't think any of the SEDAN networks outside of FL are accessible from FL. If they are, I'd like to know how to reach them. The local SEDAN node is literally across the street from me.

Thanks, I looked and did not see anything else either in Florida. I should mention that there is a well connected packet radio network up in Michigan.  http://www.mi-drg.org/

Steve K8BZ is very well known to the ham radio community there. Just last year he produced 17 outstanding packet radio training videos on YouTube for those that maybe interested.
 
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFE00Ijq5WsDh7Y2Ak72CiA

There are many other packet radio networks throughout the country, and I'll provide a list of them if anyone is interested. Check out my signature and link on the bottom of this post for a very interesting eham thread about packet radio today from just a few months ago.  Packet is alive and well despite being declared dead in the 1990's!




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KK4GGL
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« Reply #29 on: March 03, 2017, 02:05:09 PM »

Thanks :-)
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73,
Rick KK4GGL
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