First IARU Region 2 Emergency Communications Workshop Focuses on Awareness, Cooperation
The first IARU Region 2 Emergency Communications Workshop, held September 24-25 in Cancun, Mexico in conjunction with the IARU Region 2 XVIII General Assembly, explored international issues facing Amateur Radio’s response to emergencies and disasters. Sponsored by IARU Region 2 and the ARRL, the event was co-chaired by ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, and IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinator Dr. Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P.
Participants represented many nations within and outside of Region 2 — Mexico, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, Peru, Chile, India, Australia, Canada, US, and Panama. Over the two-day session, attendees heard presentations that covered ITU response to disasters, technical innovations in disaster response, the IARU Emergency Communications Handbook project, and organizational updates. Attendees and presenters also took part in a tabletop exercise. Discussion inside and outside the workshop focused on several key points.
· There is a need greater public education on the value of Amateur Radio. The general public as well as served agencies need to be aware of what Amateur Radio can do and why it is valuable.
· The IARU should consider approaching the ITU about developing partnerships with Amateur Radio equipment manufacturers to assist with the communications response to large international disasters.
· There should be more participation from young Amateurs as presenters and attendees in international emergency communications workshops such as this and GAREC.
· Cross border cooperation and coordination of Amateurs should be encouraged. Along with this Amateurs need to be aware of cultural differences that may arise in international response.
· There is a greater need from served agencies for high-speed video, data, and high resolution imagery.
· More input is needed for the IARU Emergency Communications Handbook project.
A follow-up document will expand of each of these key points. Organizers say that while attendance was lower than anticipated, the workshop was successful in accomplishing its goals of sharing information on Amateur Radio response to emergencies in the region; increasing the capacity for Region 2 amateurs to respond to large-scale, multinational communication emergencies, and provide an opportunity for national-level Amateur Radio emergency communications leaders to network and increase the level of cooperation and collaboration within IARU Region 2.
Presentations and additional material from this workshop will be made available on the IARU Region 2 website. A second emergency communications workshop is anticipated to follow up on the progress from the efforts initiated in Cancun. Direct comments and questions to Mike Corey, KI1U (English), or Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P, (Español)