August 2012 Inbox
August 16, 2012
Following are comments we’ve received from readers about recent online and print news and articles. If you’d like to comment on an article, email edit@RRMediaGroup.com
You can have all the plans you think you need or want for storm coordination, disaster response and recovery. What actually happens out in the field is a different story. The politics of who thinks they are in charge will surface fairly early in the process. Then who really is in charge starts to become blurred. The issue, as I like to call it, is the politics start to show up.
We can always provide whatever hardware it takes to establish communications, bring enough food and water to get through the first two or three days, and bring tents, generators and whatever to get started to organize whatever it takes. What most people don't realize is the chain of command when multiple agencies start showing up together. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), law enforcement from out of town, fire and rescue people, and the National Guard all come together at one point on the ground. This is where the documents guide you to who is the incident commander.
The problem is the incident commander is where the fuzzy part of this operation shows how just unorganized things can get in a short time. The politics start to bubble to the surface and people get their nose bent out of shape because they think they should be in charge. The simple way to solve the issue is to shove all these "I am in charge" people into a small room with no air conditioning or restroom facilities available to them. They don't come out till the smoke and personal feelings are settled. Personally, I have seen this take two or three days to iron out. In the meantime, you have all sorts of civilian people looking for help, shelter and food.
Communications is another area where you need to have an iron fist control by the incident commander. Just about every time I have seen multiple mobile command vehicle show up after a disaster, the first thing that always happens is they start linking all the "national radio interoperability frequencies" together. You key up a VHF radio on one of these channels and you end up coming out on UHF, VHF, 800 MHz and who knows what else. That needs to stop and only do what the incident commander tells you to do. It's called organization. This doesn't seem to be occurring very often at the locations that I have been to. Maybe others have had better results.
Radio Systems Engineer
I hope that they will not base communications using IP. In my opinion, IP technology has yet to prove that it is reliable in major disasters.
I know they are more than useful. Their communications system is already 100 percent interoperable. They already have a 100 percent talk to each other system. They are "technically" minded. If something goes wrong with their radios, they fix it themselves. If a Project 25 (P25) radio goes faulty during a disaster, you must try and get a tech to come out and fix it, and he/she might not be available for days or weeks. If your Long Term Evolution (LTE) network goes down, you are in deep trouble. The radio amateurs can fix theirs immediately — a big advantage.
We had a flood, and the emergency systems that were suppose to be resilient, died, and the radio amateurs saved the day. It took five days to get techs to fix the "resilient" system. The radio amateurs could fix on the go.
Establish a nationally accepted identification that could be registered with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and let every radio amateur who volunteers get one type of ID countrywide. Then there will be no confusion during emergencies. Have one countrywide radio amateur emergency organization that coordinates it all in the government. You need it with all the disasters you have.
Leon van der Linde
This article notes that, “the channels are used in 11 metropolitan areas across the country to provide public-safety and some business/industry communications.” Actually, according to the statistics gathered by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC), there are 703 industrial/business (I/B) licensees, operating 223,593 radios on 8,184 repeaters constructed at 1,746 sites. In Pittsburgh; Washington, D.C.; Dallas; Miami; and Houston, I/B use of the T-band actually exceeds that of public safety. “Substantial” might have been a more accurate description of the use of this band by the I/B community rather than “some.”
Enterprise Wireless Alliance
I read with interest your recent article related to the help of Kenwood technology to firefighting in Spain. The only thing I maybe did not understand properly is if that help was a result of purchasing new equipment only or as a joint result of some donation. For sure it would be good if Kenwood donated some parts of the equipment. Local communities and emergency services always need donations from those who are able to help — either in money and equipment, as well as in free time and technical skills.
I suppose that RadioResource has already been informed about donations in time and volunteer work that radio amateurs give free to various emergency services, educational institutions, etc. Very often the radio amateurs cooperate with such services by giving lectures in conferences or elsewhere about possible involvements when it is the right time for help. One of those lectures will occur next October in India. I will perform a tutorial on the amateur radio communications during a conference in Trivandrum, for details please visit www.snds-conference.org/wt.html
It is planned to include not only theoretical talks but also practical experiments with interconnecting computers by using amateur radio stations (packet radio). Related to that, it might be the right time to promote Kenwood VHF/UHF amateur transceivers equipped with terminal node controllers (TNC) by performing tests with such devices at the conference venue.
Besides the conference mentioned, I am working on organizing some more presentations in India during the same trip in October.
Video is certainly going to be a big part of any Long Term Evolution (LTE) system, and we would like to properly follow guidelines as set by expert groups, such as highlighted by your article.
Do you know how to procure one of the handbooks, who to contact or where we could find a copy to purchase?
Thank you for the enlightening article; keep them coming.
Security and Transportation Systems Director
VQiPS Working Group Response:
The handbook is going through the final review process, and it is scheduled to be ready sometime this fall. The release date is dependent on how long it takes to get through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) review process.
Once the handbook is ready, we will release it to the public and because it is a DHS document it will be available for free.