Delegates Descend on Tokyo for GAREC 09
Officials from the IARU and all three IARU regions, national IARU Member-Societies and specialized Amateur Radio emergency communications groups from around the globe gathered in Tokyo on August 24-25 for the Fifth Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Conference (GAREC 2009). Hosted by the Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL), GAREC was held in conjunction with Ham Fair. More than 30 participants considered the statements from past GAREC conferences -- GAREC 05 (Tampere, Finland), GAREC 06 (Tampere, Finland), GAREC 07 (Huntsville, Alabama, USA) and GAREC 08 (Friedrichshafen, Germany) -- discussing the progress made on the implementation of the recommendations, and looking at recent experiences from exercises and actual emergency operations.
While GAREC is not a decision-making body, delegates made note of the relationships between the Amateur Service and organizations that are engaged in public protection and disaster relief, in particular the formal agreements and understandings that exist between the IARU and the United Nations, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). They also looked at reports on recent emergency communications operations, specifically the earthquake disaster relief operations in Japan in 1995, China in 2008 and Italy in 2009, as well as the 2009 Australian bushfires. Delegates also took into account the reports on Global SETs, Center of Activity Frequencies, Automatic Link Establishment (ALE) and emergency communications across international borders.
GAREC delegates requested that the ITU "continue to support the activities of IARU in facilitating the role of the Amateur Radio Service in emergency communications by fully implementing the provisions of Radio Regulations (RR) Article 25 as revised by the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-03, Geneva 2003) through the appropriate mechanisms of its Telecommunication Development Bureau and to support national Administrations in such implementation." The part of Article 25 concerning Emergency Communications states: "Amateur stations may be used for transmitting international communications on behalf of third parties only in case of emergencies or disaster relief. An administration may determine the applicability of this provision to amateur stations under its jurisdiction" (RR 25.3), and "Administrations are encouraged to take the necessary steps to allow amateur stations to prepare for and meet communication needs in support of disaster relief" (RR 25.9A).
GAREC also wants the ITU to "continue to study the possibilities for the introduction of an International Amateur Radio License facilitating the work of Amateur Radio Service in international assistance and related training activities."
GAREC appealed to all of the IARU Member-Societies, as well as specialized emergency communications groups, to do the following:
To establish close working relationships between the National IARU Member-Society and independent specialized Amateur Radio emergency communications groups in the respective countries, as well as to cooperate internationally.
To request their national regulatory authorities implement the modifications to Article 25 of the Radio Regulations, particularly the regulations governing third-party traffic during emergencies and during training for emergency operations.
To provide training in emergency communications to as many amateurs as possible in their respective countries, with particular emphasis on personal and logistical preparedness, psychological aspects of entering a disaster area, familiarity with the civil protection system in their country, communications techniques of particular value in emergencies and remembering that the skills developed in the amateur service can be of great benefit to disaster relief organizations in maintaining and operating their own telecommunications networks.
Whenever emergency communications are being conducted on frequencies that propagate internationally, to use any available real-time communications channels, including but not limited to e-mail bulletins, Web sites, social networking and DX clusters to draw the attention of the largest possible number of Amateur Radio operators to ongoing emergency communications, in order to avoid interference with emergency traffic.
To use their contacts with national regulatory authorities to encourage the accession to and implementation of the Tampere Convention on the Provision of Telecommunication Resources for Disaster Mitigation and Relief Operations. To date, 37 countries have adopted Tampere.
To support the work of the IARU on an international Emergency Communications Handbook and to provide copies of existing agreements with institutional partners in emergency response, as well as copies of emergency communication guidelines, manuals and checklists developed for national or local use as inputs to this work.
To work toward the implementation of Memoranda of Understanding established between the IARU and ITU, IFRC, and the United Nations by seeking cooperation with the respective national institutions and organizations in their country.
To continuously improve their awareness of the mission, vision and values of served agencies.
To represent themselves as a human and technical resource able and willing to investigate the communication requirements of served agencies, offer recommendations when asked, and facilitate emergency communications when required.
GAREC called on the IARU to encourage its national IARU Member-Societies to "actively support the mission of Amateur Radio as an emergency communications resource." In the official GAREC Statement, delegates also stated that they would like to see the IARU support the following: The implementation of Article 25, the ongoing work toward an International Amateur Radio License, and the work and publication of the IARU Emergency Communications Handbook.
With respect to governments and telecommunication administrations, the conference would like these bodies to encourage joint training activities and exercises of Amateur Radio emergency communications groups and institutional providers of emergency response. Delegates recommend that GAREC conferences should continue to be held in locations throughout the world, maintaining the character of GAREC as an informal meeting among representatives of IARU Member-Societies and of Amateur Radio emergency communications groups, "serving as a forum for the exchange of experience and as an advisory body for the work on emergency communications of the IARU."