… hooman’s thoughts on emergency management and amateur radio

12 07 2007

[Comment by Hooman Hooseinpour] Thanks so much for your response.

In fact, there are many issues which can be related to this topic, Communications Problems. This is one of the great obstacles that even developed countries face during large scale emergency events. Here, I don’t aim to discuss about issues related to emergency management and decision-making, in that there is so much I need to learn. What I am going to say is about a more reliable communication system, Amateur Radio. Let’s have a brief overview:

In the age of satellite telephones and information highways one important network is sometimes overlooked: That of more than 2.5 million Amateur Radio Stations world-wide. In many cases such stations have provided first information about a disaster and served as the only link to the outside world. The Amateur Radio Service has two distinct advantages: Unlike commercial systems, it is not as dependent on terrestrial infrastructures that can fail; they can work on own power resources such as batteries or generators, and they are operated by dedicated and skilled enthusiasts. The term “Amateur” here does not reflect the skills of operators, which is often advanced; it indicates its non-commercial usage. Amateur Radio operators, also called hams, often support their communities with emergency communications in addition to personal communication they can have with their friends and all other hams around the world to improve their skills. The importance of providing reliable communication network is clear; without rapid, coordinated communications, even the best disaster management plan is virtually ineffective. It doesn’t matter in which country you are living; during recent hurricanes in U.S., Katrina and Rita, all terrestrial facilities such as power, phone lines etc failed or overloaded in affected regions. Definitely, developing countries are much more vulnerable to such strong disasters. In United States where most of the emergency organizations are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, during such critical conditions, they use Amateur Radio. I also noticed that they are going to develop more radio stations around the country and encourage citizens to come and join the clubs to improve their proficiency for such critical conditions. This is what they learnt from these disasters.

In order to understand the situation of Amateur Radio in Iran, please let me share my little experience. When I was youth, I was curios to know about morse codes and how I can understand them, especially after watching “Artesh-e-Serri”! (Using morse code is one way of communications. Amateur Radio operators, hams, can also speak with each other through their radios.) One of my friends introduced Amateur Radio to me and told me that the Ministry of Information & Communications Technology (Current Name) has started to take related exams and give the license to applicants. It was the second exam, and we were among the first applicants that could get this license after revolution of Iran and were happy that after passing several law obstacles, eventually regular people are permitted to use it, but since then I haven’t heard any promising news, and it seems that they are not going to take any more exams, so instead of improvement, we have had regression. I was also informed that after the unforgettable earthquake in Bam, some Amateur Radio operators from Turkey came to Iran to assist earthquake relief. It was not good news; we could have enough trained Iranian hams to handle it. …. This is the link you can refer to: http://www.eham.net/articles/7326

I am not sure how much our people are familiar with Amateur Radio, but as far as I remember, when I was talking with my friends, none of them heard about Amateur Radio even those whose academic major was Electrical Engineering with emphasis in communication. However, I know some individuals who are self-motivated and really interested (current hams in Iran) to develop this facility around the country, but in addition to an organized plan, more cooperation and support are needed. Upon what Shideh said and inquiry I recently have had from my links in Iran, I can conclude that we somehow need first to introduce Amateur Radio to our people by which they are encouraged to learn and know more about it, then willy-nilly demands for using this facility will be increased, which hopefully will remind related organizations of their law duties. I think universities and high schools are the best places for the fist step. In my point of view, we have good potential to develop it around the country in a reasonable time.

Since I don’t want to miss any point, please let me stop here and refer you to some useful (hopefully) links by which you can learn more and become familiar with its great advantages:

About 5 minutes video showing the role of Amateur Radio during the hurricane Katrina occurred in United States (Title: Katrina: The Untold Story), and about 15 minutes video showing part of the amateur radio operators’ work (Title: Ham Radio and the Skywarn Program in Taunton):
Because of some technical problems, I cannot put direct video links. Please first click on:
http://www.emergencyradio.org/stories.html
Then choose “Katrina: The Untold Story” and “Ham Radio and the Skywarn Program in Taunton”.

Amateur Radio Disaster Services website:
http://www.ares.org/

American Radio Relay League; these websites provide comprehensive information regarding Amateur Radio and how you can get the license:
http://www.arrl.org/
http://www.emergency-radio.org/

In addition, a research work was carried out by a group of doctoral students at University of Maryland that may be interesting to you. The topic of discussion is: An Analysis of Communications Problems during Natural Disaster. The main issues they covered are as follows:

Incident Management Process;
Problems with Layered Disasters Problems Concepts;
* Communication Infrastructure Requirements for Emergency Response;
Communications Delays during Emergency Response;
Decision-Making during Emergency Response.

You can access to the article through this link:
www.systemdynamics.org/cgi-bin/sdsweb?P115

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, AMATEUR RADIO WORKS.

My regards to those whose hearts beat for others.
Hooman.
 

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10 responses

24 07 2007
Shawhin

That’s very interesting. I confess that I’m one of those people who knew nothing about the potential of amateur radio. My first exposure to it was only a couple days before your post, when I saw Die Hard 3 with my brother.

I’m curious to learn more about Tehran’s disaster management efforts and what, if any, disaster management framework/plan they have. Have you come across any documentation on that?

As for Hams specific efforts – as you said – I imagine extra-curricular programs revolving around youth would be feasible and popular in Tehran. If one were passionate about setting up a program, and assuming all’s legal in Iran, I think much can be done.

28 07 2007
Hooman Hosseinpour

Thank you for your interest. I have not noticed any specific documented plan in this regard. Unfortunately, we have limited number of Hams in Iran, and, as I said, there is still so much to do. After some temporarily improvements in passing law obstacles, current Hams tried to conduct some workshops in Amir Kabir University and Allameh Helli High School in Tehran, which had noticeable effects in increasing applicants in the next exam, but it should be continued till it became popular at least among youth before the situation got worse again. Now, it seems that the best way is increasing the demand for using Radio Amateur, as a wireless communication system during critical conditions, by encouraging students at schools and universities; hopefully related organization takes related exams again and makes the way easier for Hams to expand their humanitarian activities around the country.

14 01 2008
Paula

i have not yet preformed my experiment. when i do i would be glad to tell you about it.

15 01 2008
Shawhin

Hooman, above we were asking about what Tehran has in the way of disaster management plans and so on: please see our post from 1/13/08 on Tehran’s conference on integrated natural disaster management. I wish I could attend.
… I wonder if they will talk about “hams”

20 04 2008
Hooman

Dear Shawhin,

By the chance, I noticed your note tonight. I didn’t receive any message informing me about your note. Thank you for letting me know.

Could you get any news or more information about that conference? I don’t think they talked about Radio Amateur and its applications in disaster management …

20 04 2008
Hooman Hosseinpour

Hello Paula:

Thanks for your post. We are also looking forward to hearing from your experience …. Please let us know where you are from and provide us more information about the place of Radio Amateur in your country. We are interested in knowing whether it has been ever used for disaster management in your country …

Regards,
Hooman Hosseinpour.

20 05 2009
Flinankawab

Great web site – Will visit again!

21 06 2009
Kjeld Lehnsdal

Very good information — y 73 Kjeld / oz3acf +

14 11 2009
sakshi jain

this was really good information. thank you for enlightening us. but i want to know what are the future trends in ham radio and how can disaster management be made more efficient by its usage?

30 11 2009
Prerna Jain

I could ot find the info, I was in search of. Yet, it provided very sensible info which helped me in compeleting my project, successfully. Thanx a lot to give such wonderful info.

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