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IARU Region 2 Emergency Communications Workshop Covers Wide Range of Topics


The second IARU Region 2 (IARU-R2) Emergency Communications Workshop on October 11 focused on international issues facing Amateur Radio in emergencies and disasters. ARRL and IARU Region 2 sponsored the workshop, held in Viña del Mar, Chile, in conjunction with the IARU Region 2 General Assembly. ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager and IARU Area B Emergency Coordinator Mike Corey, KI1U, and IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinator Dr Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P, co-chaired the event. Region 2 President Reinaldo Leandro, YV5AM, represented the IARU-R2 Executive Committee. Presentation topics reiterated and expanded upon themes discussed at the first Region 2 Emergency Communications Workshop, held in Mexico in 2013, and raised some new issues.

“The IARU Region 2 Emergency Communications Workshop provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity for Amateurs involved in emergency communications in the region to come together, share ideas, network, and improve response capability within their respective national societies,” Corey and Pio Santos said in a joint news release.

Attendees came from countries within and outside of Region 2, including Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Honduras, India, Trinidad and Tobago, US, Canada, and Mexico.

Workshop speakers represented national societies and organizations with an international scope, including the Federación Mexicana de Radioexperimentadores (FMRE), the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Radio Club de Chile (RCC), Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (AREDN), and the Radio Club Venezolano (RCV).

Topics covered the use of Winlink, SATERN support for Salvation Army disaster response, the role of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), developing operator and communication skills, AREDN mesh networking technology for disaster response, and emergency communication response in Venezuela.

Among the workshop’s conclusions:

  • There continues to be a need for greater public education on the value of Amateur Radio. Specific ideas discussed included availability of print material and social media presence for IARU Region 2 emergency activities.
  • Events such as the Nepal and Ecuador earthquakes and the Philippines typhoon demonstrated the need for cached Amateur Radio equipment that can be deployed to support emergency communications activities. The IARU should consider approaching the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) with a plan to provide such resources to the ITU cached telecommunications equipment program.
  • The availability of platforms such as Google Hangouts, Skype, and similar virtual meeting programs make it possible to connect those in IARU Region 2 involved with Amateur Radio emergency communications. This could allow for coordination, training, and preparedness networking. Additionally it may provide a means for youth participation in virtual emergency communications workshops.
  • Exercises such as Cascadia Rising and Pacific Endeavor and events such as the Nepal earthquake, Ecuador earthquake, and Hurricane Matthew demonstrate the unique ability of radio amateurs to work together across political boundaries. Cross-border and multinational exercises provide a way to practice our response capability to be prepared for large scale disasters. The IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinators should work together to develop a protocol to design, implement, evaluate and report on such exercises.
  • Traditional modes of Amateur Radio communication, such as voice and CW, are vital to our ability to provide emergency communications in IARU Region 2. We must encourage the development of operator skills through on air activity and continued training. Additionally, due to new and emerging communications needs, we must encourage the wide use of new technologies — radio e-mail such as Winlink, mesh networking protocols such as the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (AREDN), weak-signal modes, and improved health-and-welfare messaging — in order to meet the needs of served agencies.

IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinators will explore the possibility of an online emergency communication resource library available to IARU Region 2 member societies and Amateur Radio emergency communication participants.

Corey and Pio Santos said the workshop met its goals of sharing information on Amateur Radio response to emergencies in the region; increasing the capacity for Region 2 radio amateurs to respond to large-scale, multinational communication emergencies; providing an opportunity for national-level Amateur Radio emergency communications leaders to network and increase the level of cooperation and collaboration within the IARU Region 2, and building upon topics and discussions from the first workshop in 2013 and about specific events in the interim.

Workshop presentations and additional material will be available on the IARU Region 2 website. A third emergency communications workshop has not yet been scheduled.

Direct comments and questions to Mike Corey, KI1U (English) or to Dr Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P (Español).




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