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OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - Printable Version

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OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - VA3KOT John - 2020-10-14

I quote the following from the latest TCA:

"As a result of the global pandemic and the need to follow the health guidelines involving physical distancing, there continues to be few Amateur Radio Community Service and ARES EmComm group activities to report."

Whatever happened to "when all else fails there is amateur radio"?

The global pandemic should be just the kind of emergency that the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) stands by to assist.

But, ask yourself, if the RAC ARES organization were called up to provide a group of volunteers to grab their go-kits and sleep the next few nights on camp cots at the Grey County Emergency Operations Centre while sending and receiving emergency traffic, would you make yourself available?

Are you perfectly comfortable sending and receiving messages using one of the approved message forms used in the National Traffic System (NTS)?

Are you an accomplished Narrow Band Emergency Message System (NBEMS) operator?

Are you a registered Winlink operator?

Are you familiar with the ARRL FSD-3 Relief Emergency - Routine Messages (number coded emergency messages) and how to send them using NTS?

Can you copy Morse Code at 20wpm?

Let us imagine that the emergency was not Covid-19 but a computer virus that has taken down the power grid and power has been out for over a week. Cell tower backup generators are out of fuel, all ham repeaters are down. Gasoline pumps are unable to operate.

Your handheld radio is good for a range of a few kilometers at best. HF is the only way to get signals out. Now ask yourself:

Do you know how to reliably get a signal into the next county?
Maybe the answer is NVIS (Near Vertical Incidence Skywave). Operating NVIS requires distinct skills and knowledge. A lot of the available information is out-of-date and will cause communications failure. Can you setup an NVIS antenna? Do you know how to find out the critical frequency (foF2) for your location and time-of-day?

Do you know what band to operate on to reach a DX location?
Are you proficient in digital modes that will get a signal through even when the S/N ratio has a minus sign?

I cannot put a check mark down against all these questions and I doubt there are many hams who can. But the biggest question is probably the first one: "if the RAC ARES organization were called up to provide a group of volunteers to grab their go-kits and sleep the next few nights on camp cots at the Grey County Emergency Operations Centre while sending and receiving emergency traffic, would you make yourself available?"

I have had enough exposure to the RAC ARES organization to understand that it is a top heavy bureaucracy. It is a classic case of "too many chiefs, not enough Indians" - and I mean no disrespect to the First Nations community. ARES should have been built from the bottom up. When there are enough dedicated, thoroughly trained volunteers willing to interrupt their lives at a moment's notice, then - and only then - do they need an organization to manage them.

GBARC must address this issue if we are to make a meaningful contribution to EmComm (Emergency Communications) whether it is for the benefit of our community or just protecting our families and ourselves in an emergency.

When all else fails, there is amateur radio - really?


RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - VA3KOT John - 2020-10-15

Our area is under a declared state-of-emergency due to Covid-19 but it is unclear what this actually means in terms of emergency response.
[attachment=79]
The role of amateur radio is undefined in an extended declared emergency like this. However, we could be prepared to assist individuals connect with family, friends and support services during a lockdown.

When an earthquake hit Italy a few years back, hams set up an open channel on 20m for just that purpose. Regular communications in the affected region were disrupted and hams helped Italians in North America find out whether family and friends in the earthquake zone were safe.

The City of Owen Sound has an action plan for emergencies and Grey County ARES is a part of it:

Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) On request from the City:
Provide a representative to the City’s EOC to determine the amateur radio communication needs and capabilities
Activate emergency notification procedures for the Saugeen Sector of the Amateur Radio Emergency Services operators
Ensure that the EOC is properly equipped and staffed
Establish an area wide radio network in the event of a telephone failure
Coordinate the deployment of amateur radio operators and resources during an emergency according to the needs of the EOC.
Maintain a personal log of all actions taken

Are we ready I wonder?

A neighbour of mine is a firefighter with the City of Owen Sound. When he found out that I am a ham operator he told me the city's fire hall has ham radio equipment "but nobody ever uses it" he said.

He told me that firefighters turn it on from to time but never hear anything on it. I cautioned him not to try to transmit on that radio because its operation requires a ham radio licence.

I also told him the equipment is there in preparation for an emergency and would not be used except for that purpose.

Are we maintaining this equipment? Has it been tested regularly to ensure it is ready for use when required? Where else do we have an emergency station set up?


RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - VA3KOT John - 2020-10-15

It pays to be ready. Before moving to Owen Sound I spent several years working with Dufferin ARES. Dufferin ARES was formerly a very large group and was well connected with the County. Dufferin County provided a retired ambulance which was converted into an emergency communications vehicle equipped with three fixed VHF/UHF stations, another three VHF/UHF portable go-kits, one HF station and three computer stations. We conducted frequent exercises to ensure we were ready when called.

Images show the Dufferin ARES Communications Vehicle exterior, and the interior being filmed by CTV Barrie who broadcast a feature on ARES including interviews with several of us.

[attachment=82][attachment=81]

The deadly 1985 Dufferin F5 tornado resulted in an ARES callout. There was one more callout during a storm a few years later but then years passed by with no further action. We became a little complacent and our numbers declined but we kept up our exercises - just in case.

Then one day "just-in-case" actually happened. In November 2015 a freak windstorm blew down the county communications tower at Melancthon Fire Hall. ARES was activated and five of us responded immediately.
[attachment=80]
Grey County ARES is a part of Owen Sound's emergency action plan. We may never be called upon, but one day the call may come. We must be ready.


RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - VA3TS Tom - 2020-10-16

There are lots of things I would be rusty at like traffic handling, but I think I could scare up a station with antennas and feedline fairly quickly. I can see a little problem with the leaving home for a few days. It's not so much the being away from home, it's who is left at home. The security of the family is important also but maybe it's just a matter of organization and scheduling.  my 2 cents


RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - VE3WI Dave - 2020-10-16

ARES in Bruce County does seem to be coma.  From what I'm reading, Grey Co. may not be much more alive.

Rather than "let's bury it" why don't we say, "we can rebuild it, we have the technology" (with apologies to The Six Million Dollar Man)

Certain things must exist or be created if ARES is to be reborn around here. Some of the more important ones are:
One thing we do not need is more procedure manuals.  We already have a RAC ARES EC Manual and a RAC ARES Ops Training Manual - about 350 pages worth.  I see RAC is working away revising the Training Manual.  Well, good for them.

We also have some training available.  We can all do the RAC Certified Emergency Coordinator self-study course online.  We can all do the Emergency Management Ontario IMS-100 certification course online for free. 

We have to first possess some capability before we offer it to local emerg. managers.  Right now I believe our capability is essentially zero.   (If you don't believe this, imagine some accident at one of the Bruce plants has resulted in hundreds of local residents near the site being evacuated to reception centers in Port Elgin and Kincardine.  Cellphone networks are totally saturated & bogged down.  The municipal emergency managers have asked amateur radio operators to set up stations at the reception centers & handle evacuees' welfare traffic to and from their relatives.  Could we do it?  Based on what I saw & did during the Provincial Exercise in 2016, I'd say no.)

Critical mass is a big issue IMHO.  Grey & Bruce have sparse ham populations, relative to a city environment.  It may not be possible to maintain two viable ARES organizations.  A single Grey-Bruce ARES is a possibility, but would be a huge geographic area.  I don't even know how to survey all the hams in Grey & Bruce for interest, without digging them out of the ISED database and sending each one a letter.

I'd like to help address this issue, just don't know where to start.

73
Dave, VE3WI


RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - VA3KOT John - 2020-10-16

(2020-10-16, 08:06:51)VE3WI Dave Wrote:  ARES in Bruce County does seem to be coma.  From what I'm reading, Grey Co. may not be much more alive.

Rather than "let's bury it" why don't we say, "we can rebuild it, we have the technology" (with apologies to The Six Million Dollar Man)

Certain things must exist or be created if ARES is to be reborn around here. Some of the more important ones are:
  • Effective leadership
  • A critical mass of hams willing to (a) learn how to communicate in an emergency, and (b) maintain a state of readiness
  • Working relationships with local emerg. managers & understanding of where amateur radio fits in to their local emergency plans (and where it does not)
One thing we do not need is more procedure manuals.  We already have a RAC ARES EC Manual and a RAC ARES Ops Training Manual - about 350 pages worth.  I see RAC is working away revising the Training Manual.  Well, good for them.

We also have some training available.  We can all do the RAC Certified Emergency Coordinator self-study course online.  We can all do the Emergency Management Ontario IMS-100 certification course online for free. 

We have to first possess some capability before we offer it to local emerg. managers.  Right now I believe our capability is essentially zero.   (If you don't believe this, imagine some accident at one of the Bruce plants has resulted in hundreds of local residents near the site being evacuated to reception centers in Port Elgin and Kincardine.  Cellphone networks are totally saturated & bogged down.  The municipal emergency managers have asked amateur radio operators to set up stations at the reception centers & handle evacuees' welfare traffic to and from their relatives.  Could we do it?  Based on what I saw & did during the Provincial Exercise in 2016, I'd say no.)

Critical mass is a big issue IMHO.  Grey & Bruce have sparse ham populations, relative to a city environment.  It may not be possible to maintain two viable ARES organizations.  A single Grey-Bruce ARES is a possibility, but would be a huge geographic area.  I don't even know how to survey all the hams in Grey & Bruce for interest, without digging them out of the ISED database and sending each one a letter.

I'd like to help address this issue, just don't know where to start.

73
Dave, VE3WI

That's a very good analysis Dave. I agree with every point you made. My original post title was intended to be a little provocative to stimulate responses. It is the bureaucracy that should be buried, not the activity.

My understanding is that our licenses are free and we are given slices of spectrum in the expectation that we will develop skills and capabilities that could benefit the community. If we fail to do that we may find competition for spectrum eroding our very cosy hobby.


RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - VE3WI Dave - 2020-10-16

John, I share the same fear about loss of spectrum:
- attack on 2m in Europe
- loss of 3 GHz in US
- ever increasing use of HF for high speed (AKA wide band) data for stock trading

Even given our misgivings about ARES, RAC is our only advocate against loss of spectrum allocation from the amateur service.  It's really disappointing that the vast majority of Canadian hams do not see the need to support RAC - to the extent that it almost went bankrupt and disappeared a few years ago.  Canadian RAC membership penetration is vanishingly small compared to, for example, ARRL in the US or RSGB in Great Britain (best numbers I could find: Canada: 4500/70000, USA: 160000/700000, GB: 22000/76000).  Those numbers should be an embarrassment to all Canadian hams.  It's really frustrating to hear the litany of excuses people give for not joining RAC.

So if hams won't even do this one little thing (pay a few $$ once per year) to help preserve the amateur service, how can we hope to create and operate an effective emergency comm organization, to help preserve the amateur service?

73
Dave, VE3WI


RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - VA3KOT John - 2020-10-16

(2020-10-16, 19:28:07)VE3WI Dave Wrote:  John, I share the same fear about loss of spectrum:
- attack on 2m in Europe
- loss of 3 GHz in US
- ever increasing use of HF for high speed (AKA wide band) data for stock trading

Even given our misgivings about ARES, RAC is our only advocate against loss of spectrum allocation from the amateur service.  It's really disappointing that the vast majority of Canadian hams do not see the need to support RAC - to the extent that it almost went bankrupt and disappeared a few years ago.  Canadian RAC membership penetration is vanishingly small compared to, for example, ARRL in the US or RSGB in Great Britain (best numbers I could find: Canada: 4500/70000, USA: 160000/700000, GB: 22000/76000).  Those numbers should be an embarrassment to all Canadian hams.  It's really frustrating to hear the litany of excuses people give for not joining RAC.

So if hams won't even do this one little thing (pay a few $$ once per year) to help preserve the amateur service, how can we hope to create and operate an effective emergency comm organization, to help preserve the amateur service?

73
Dave, VE3WI
Agreed Dave. I am a RAC member and even though I don't think they are doing a great job with ARES I do support the organization's principal goals.


RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - Adam_VE3FP - 2020-10-16

Good points raised in previous posts but without participants and no one to take the reins to bring ARES as active member of our community we can only talk about it and been doing that for past few years. 

As a club, the upcoming executive should conduct a survey to get an idea of the number of hams still active and not just hold an amateur radio licence which seems to the case now days. IC website is not updated if ham becomes deceased and not reported we don't know the real count. Also the survey should include the tools each hams has at their disposal, meaning: able to handle traffic in various forms (digital, cw, ssb), station capabilities (mobile, portable or fixed). 

With Covid-19 still to deal with, meetings over Zoom or WebEX should be considered in place of a regular meeting so club and/or ARES presentations and training can be done without endangering anyone and still hold on-the-air weekly nets. In many ways I find using the video platform I can attend other club meetings without physically going there.

Right now, "ARES is dead" in Grey/Bruce but like Dave ve3wi said, "we can rebuild it, we have the technology"

73 and stay safe.
Adam ve3fp   


RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - VA3KOT John - 2020-10-16

(2020-10-16, 21:13:21)Adam_VE3FP Wrote:  Good points raised in previous posts but without participants and no one to take the reins to bring ARES as active member of our community we can only talk about it and been doing that for past few years. 

As a club, the upcoming executive should conduct a survey to get an idea of the number of hams still active and not just hold an amateur radio licence which seems to the case now days. IC website is not updated if ham becomes deceased and not reported we don't know the real count. Also the survey should include the tools each hams has at their disposal, meaning: able to handle traffic in various forms (digital, cw, ssb), station capabilities (mobile, portable or fixed). 

With Covid-19 still to deal with, meetings over Zoom or WebEX should be considered in place of a regular meeting so club and/or ARES presentations and training can be done without endangering anyone and still hold on-the-air weekly nets. In many ways I find using the video platform I can attend other club meetings without physically going there.

Right now, "ARES is dead" in Grey/Bruce but like Dave ve3wi said, "we can rebuild it, we have the technology"

73 and stay safe.
Adam ve3fp   

Thanks Adam, excellent ideas. Some members are already using Zoom. A couple of us were trying it out for the first time this morning. It looks like a good platform for holding club meetings while the Covid restrictions are still in effect.


RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - marvin.double - 2021-04-09

(2020-10-16, 03:51:34)VA3TS Tom Wrote:  There are lots of things I would be rusty at like traffic handling, but I think I could scare up a station with antennas and feedline fairly quickly. I can see a little problem with the leaving home for a few days. It's not so much the being away from home, it's who is left at home. The security of the family is important also but maybe it's just a matter of organization and scheduling.  my 2 cents
I totally agree Tom, who's left at home is a key question. This is why, in my humble opinion, emergency radio operations should also include all aspects which support the operators(s) during a true emergency of any length. Those who really want to be on the air should be prepared body and soul to do so. The gear is important but it's nothing without the operator.

Consider also that, while operating in an EOC will be important for the function of an emergency radio network. However critical information from field stations or established shacks will also be essential. A single operator deployed to a municipal office, hospital, police or fire station will be isolated and unsupported aside from those measure they take to feed themselves and sleep. In a long duration emergency they could be exhausted and pretty ineffective if they can't stay at their location for an extended period.

I believe that the key to a functional emergency communications network work is preparing and pre-planning for worst case scenarios. We need to think out field operations carefully with a view to having a coordinated means of maintaining comms over Bruce and Gray county via various modes. I have made the argument before, and continue to do so again that our repeaters need to be upgraded with solar panels and chargers. VHF repeaters can do the heavy lifting when it comes to coordinating basic EmComm operations. Stations willing to operate packet stations using D-RATS or similar software can send and receive files via simplex and so no repeaters are required. However careful planning of stations in such a 2 meter net will be required owing to line of sight issues etc.

NVIS operations are more complex, especially for field stations. NVIS is also subject to propagationa and so might . VHF and packet are not complex, less prone to propagation and can be setup with simple antennas. The key is to have enough stations on the air to create an effective network over the serviced areas.

Our home QTH may be the best option of setting up and operating a reliable 2 meter EmComm net. In a home QTH we can stockpile food and water which would make it easier to stay on the air longer. We can more easily rest between shifts, and stay more comfortable than possible. Jan and are are obviously good candidates for this kind of operating because we could, over a prolonged emergency, spell each other and so maintain an active net.

We are also able to operate totally off-grid using solar and in winter we have wood stoves and enough firewood to stay warm. We can do both HF, VHF and UHF and digital modes. While I'd be willing to sleep on a cot and take a few shifts at an EOC I'd be happier sleeping in my own bed, eating my own food and maintaining my own lifestyle as best I can.

That rather long winded response is my 2 cents.


RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - VE3WI Dave - 2021-04-10

I just have to contribute another 2¢:

I think before we start designing and developing comm capability, we should know what type of comms we might be tasked to perform.  In an emergency scenario there are 3 types of comms that first responders & EMO officials employ, plus one primarily needed by affected local residents:

1. TACTICAL: dispatching police, fire, paramedics
2. SUPPORT: essential comms but non-tactical (e.g. "Kincardine Evac Center needs 50 more hot meals")
3. PUBLIC INFORMATION: self explanatory
4. WELFARE: (e.g. Relative in BC wants to check on person in incident area, or person in incident area wants to inform relative in BC they are OK, but public telephones & internet are log-jammed, or equipment has failed)

(The community comms network Marvin has been talking about might be a 5th category.)

Planning for the worst case implies developing capability to handle all of this.  I don't think that's realistic for us, or for any ARES unit anywhere, although there have been a few recent cases where hams did tactical due to loss of infrastructure (e.g. Alberta flood in 2013, Caribbean hurricanes in 2017).  Mostly I think hams have helped with welfare comm.

Bottom line: we need to decide what is a realistic, achievable mission before planning to develop capability.  Once we know what we're trying to achieve, I suggest our first priority is to reach and engage as many Grey & Bruce hams as possible, to reach a "critical mass".  We have a large geographical area with a sparse ham population.  I wonder if the traditional county-based ARES model will ever work.  Maybe a joint Grey-Bruce organization is more workable?  

While we're pondering all this, how about acquiring some emergency management knowledge?  We're in lockdown, not much else to do.  Anyone can do the RAC Certified Emergency Coordinator self-study course online for free.  Anyone can do the Emergency Management Ontario IMS-100 certification course online for free

That might be 5¢, sorry for running on.

73
Dave, VE3WI


RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - Adam_VE3FP - 2021-04-10

I agree with Dave, we need to decide what is realistic and achievable. Need to know who is willing to be part of the the of this community project(s) and lead to achieve a realistic goal. Over the years we "local amateur radio ops" turned this subject of Emergency Communications over and over again with same results, going nowhere. Just look back at the Poll taken earlier this year, only 3 members selected Emergency Communication as one of their interests so I don't even know why we keep beating this dead horse. 
I guess this opinion is only worth 1/2 of 1 cent.


RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - VA3KOT John - 2021-04-10

We have to keep in mind that our licenses are a privilege that could be taken away at any time, and our spectrum is constantly under challenge from commercial interests. If we don't pay attention to community service and act on it we are putting our licenses and our spectrum at risk. There was a sinister warning from the FCC back in January that hams should not use their equipment for illegal purposes. It may have been linked to the Capitol Hill riots. We should treat that message as a warning shot across our bow.

I started this thread because I believe the traditional ARES model of tactical comms is outdated. Dave is right about Welfare comms but Marvin's idea of community networks is where we can proactively assert the value of ham radio. It can be as simple as letting our neighbours know that we have the capability of local and international communications in the event of an emergency.

I recall an earthquake in Italy a few years ago when hams setup a dedicated 24 hr station on 20m to allow family members outside the disaster zone to check on family members.

It might be argued that propagation conditions don't always allow international comms but that is where the National Traffic System is most useful. We can send a Radiogram locally and it will be relayed to anywhere in the world that allows external traffic (most countries participate). I plan to promote the use of Radiograms within the club very soon.

Hams may not express an interest in ARES when polled, as Adam observed, because of the outdated ARES model. But, if ARES were to be re-invented along the lines suggested and hams could see how they can participate using any QSO mode (i.e. not FT8) that will change.

I have personally sent and received Radiograms using CW and PSK and have seen how a large network of dedicated traffic handlers and a scheduled series of daily traffic nets can speed traffic around the globe quickly and efficiently. Any ham can be an entry point to the NTS using nothing more complex than an HT.


RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - marvin.double - 2021-04-10

Adam_VE3FPYou've made valuable points which I hope are well taken. In point of fact my Community Mesh Net project has been designed to more fully engage ARES or simply any radio club with their community. While it is important to support served agencies, in a large scale, long duration emergency the real need for communications will be at the street or individual level.

The installation of LoRa Mesh Net Nodes will allow anyone with a cell phone running the free Mesh Net application to join a local Mesh Network. Such networks, when correctly designed can relay messages across the net. This provides a powerful off-grid communication network that anyone can use in an emergency. As HAM radio operators, and specifically those involved in ARES, embedding HAM stations into such mesh networks, either as portable or fixed stations, we can then relay messages from such a mesh net out to served agencies.

There is a very personal aspect to all this which I generally don't mention. As a father and grandfather I have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren living in Southern Ontario. When I think of emergency communications I think of them. For me, EmComm is all about being able to help those in need. All of us have friends and relatives who would be impacted, as will we all, by a wide area, long duration loss of communications. Community Mesh Networks, if widely established would make it possible for us to maintain some manner of communications with those who need it most.

It is wonderful that as HAM's we can stay on the air in emergencies. However, I argue that just talking to other HAM's will be an exercise in frustration and futility if we know our families are at risk. It is my contention that we need to take a broader look at what we can offer to our communities in terms of our skills and equipment, but also our innovation and inventiveness. Being on the cutting edge of radio technology offers us a chance to bring together a number of different aspects of radio in a practical usable communications tool that can make a real difference.

Consider also that developing such Community Mesh Networks is, in my opinion an excellent chance to make every radio club more directly involved with our communities. Such projects can be supported using kick-starter campaigns and or cooperative ventures with local service clubs like Rotary or the Lions etc. This kind of campaign could breath new life into ARES, and perhaps even attract new HAM's.

It could also give us opportunity to upgrade repeaters adding digital capabilities where none now exists. I propose that not only would the Community Mesh Net Project be practical, it would also be fun. We could engage with local builder groups or high school students to develop prototypes and create the first local networks.

In this era of the internet advertising and development of such a project can be done a very low cost. However I believe that the positive benefit to both ARES and to radio clubs in general can be priceless.
 



Good points raised in previous posts but without participants and no one to take the reins to bring ARES as active member of our community we can only talk about it and been doing that for past few years. 


As a club, the upcoming executive should conduct a survey to get an idea of the number of hams still active and not just hold an amateur radio licence which seems to the case now days. IC website is not updated if ham becomes deceased and not reported we don't know the real count. Also the survey should include the tools each hams has at their disposal, meaning: able to handle traffic in various forms (digital, cw, ssb), station capabilities (mobile, portable or fixed). 

With Covid-19 still to deal with, meetings over Zoom or WebEX should be considered in place of a regular meeting so club and/or ARES presentations and training can be done without endangering anyone and still hold on-the-air weekly nets. In many ways I find using the video platform I can attend other club meetings without physically going there.

Right now, "ARES is dead" in Grey/Bruce but like Dave ve3wi said, "we can rebuild it, we have the technology"

73 and stay safe.
Adam ve3fp   


RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - VE3WI Dave - 2021-04-10

Well here I go again!

Assisting municipal EMOs, and community mesh networks, are not mutually exclusive.  Both kinds of functions may well be needed in a major emergency scenario.

IMHO, the two most likely major emergency scenarios Grey-Bruce residents might be faced with are:

Scenario 1: A major winter storm (e.g. ice-storm) affecting a large region, bringing road & air movement to a halt, downing power lines, and impairing telephone service as sites run out of diesel fuel.  Read up about the 1998 ice-storm in Quebec & you will see how bad it can get.  Texas just experienced something similar.

Scenario 2: A big accident at one of the Bruce nuclear plants requiring extended sheltering and/or evacuation of nearby residents.  (In reality this is many orders of magnitude less likely than the storm, but drastic public measures could be ordered by panicky local or provincial officials in response to a perceived threat.  Sadly, it is the only scenario routinely practised by local EMOs.)

In scenario #2, There will be no shortage of official communications I guarantee!  I think the most value hams could add would be the Welfare traffic role I described earlier.  Landline and cell comms will get log-jammed very quickly by ordinary people trying to communicate in and out of the incident area.  This has happened in all the recent natural disasters like Katrina and Sandy, and a "nuclear disaster" will be worse.  Ham radio traffic nets would be a valuable adjunct to the official response, if only we had the capability.  The issue is mostly not infrastructure, as many municipal EOCs have some kind of ham radio station already, and there are lots of hams with backup power capability.  The issue is engagement (that "critical mass" I mentioned), organization and training.  I don't think ARES is "outdated", the real problem is that most of us simply don't care enough to make it work.

In scenario #1 all bets are off.  Hams may be needed to help with more than just welfare comms.  I mentioned earlier a couple of events where hams were even tasked with tactical comms.  In 2013, hams in the High River AB kept first responders going for about 4 days until their repeaters were put back I/S.  In 2017, hams on St John island in the USVI provided ad hoc ATC for helicopters into the local hospital.  I think the issues for us here similar to above, just potentially much more demanding.  There are some infrastructure issues like long term backup repeater power supplies, but these are easy to solve - compared to the issues of engagement, organization and training.  Also in Scenario #1, local person-to-person comm will be impaired, meaning people can't help each other, in addition to the first responders being impaired.  This is where the community mesh net would be needed.  Infrastructure is clearly added to the issue list here, and we are way behind compared to "traditional" ARES comms.

As Adam said, only 3 members expressed interest in emergency comms.  Not a single person replied to the forum saying they were going to do RAC CEC or EMO IMO-100.  The Grey Co. EC isn't on here  & I don't know whether the Bruce Co. EC is following this thread (my bad, I should have informed him).  Forum posts and emails back and forth among ourselves will not develop any emergency capability.  I don't know how to reach and engage hams in GB, but I do know it's essential if we are ever to progress past forum posts and emails.

I really feel, as Adam said, that it's like beating a dead horse & I'm going to shut up now (wow I can hear the applause even with the rig off!), but I remain ready to help with anything.

73
Dave, VE3WI


RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - Adam_VE3FP - 2021-04-11

?
There you go Dave, here is the clapping for you !!! 
I don't think there is EC for Bruce also not sure about Grey either. Anyone who wants to take on the initiative a good place to start is get familiar with the ARES manual. Sections 3 & 4 are things we've been talking about for quite some time now. 
I will be available when needed but without further training I maybe just another obstacle. 
That's it for my comments on this subject as well.

(2021-04-11, 00:41:00)Adam_VE3FP Wrote:  ?
There you go Dave, here is the clapping for you !!! 
I don't think there is EC for Bruce also not sure about Grey either. Anyone who wants to take on the initiative a good place to start is get familiar with the ARES manual. Sections 3 & 4 are things we've been talking about for quite some time now. 
I will be available when needed but without further training I maybe just another obstacle. 
That's it for my comments on this subject as well.
I don't know what's with the ? ? ?. I pasted Clapping Hands Emoji for Dave's applause. I guess that doesn't work here.


RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - marvin.double - 2021-04-11

VE3WI DaveThanks Dave, for your very well considered thoughts and ideas. With respect to the dead horse, I respectfully submit that we just need a new horse. Even three people with an interest in EmComm can make a difference. There's a lot of projects we can tackle. I think ARES can be revived and make entirely relevant to local agencies and regional municipalities if the right approach is used. Loss of spectrum is a serious potential problem and so anything we do to make amateur radio an "essential service" beyond welfare traffic is what should be done, IMO.

I totally accept that one of the most pressing common threats to communications in this area will routinely be winter storms. However there is another which is dramatically underrated and generally ignored. On this point I have done extensive research. A direct cyber or physical attack on the power grid is not only entirely possible but as been said to be inevitable. Such attacks occur daily but are largely thwarted. Such attacks are a combination of generalized hacking by individuals or probing for weaknesses by professionals.

I also understand that any genuine successful attack on the power grid would be considered a terrorist attack but might well be organized by foreign "actors". In either case such an event would be an act of war and so other factors may then come into play. In any such situation our ability to be useful to anyone, including ourselves, for emergency communications would be immediately evident. For this reason I firmly believe that aside from all else we need repeaters which can operate independent of grid power or the internet.

Finally, I entirely agree that helping EMOs or making a mesh network are not mutually exclusive. In point of fact my mesh network project, if successful is intended to fuse those two functions together. A simple but robust "hybrid" network would allow information to move in an out of communities to and from EMO's and so greatly enhance local communications by EMO's and so directly impact their ability to function in a semi-normal fashion.


Well here I go again!

Assisting municipal EMOs, and community mesh networks, are not mutually exclusive.  Both kinds of functions may well be needed in a major emergency scenario.

IMHO, the two most likely major emergency scenarios Grey-Bruce residents might be faced with are:

Scenario 1: A major winter storm (e.g. ice-storm) affecting a large region, bringing road & air movement to a halt, downing power lines, and impairing telephone service as sites run out of diesel fuel.  Read up about the 1998 ice-storm in Quebec & you will see how bad it can get.  Texas just experienced something similar.

Scenario 2: A big accident at one of the Bruce nuclear plants requiring extended sheltering and/or evacuation of nearby residents.  (In reality this is many orders of magnitude less likely than the storm, but drastic public measures could be ordered by panicky local or provincial officials in response to a perceived threat.  Sadly, it is the only scenario routinely practised by local EMOs.)

In scenario #2, There will be no shortage of official communications I guarantee!  I think the most value hams could add would be the Welfare traffic role I described earlier.  Landline and cell comms will get log-jammed very quickly by ordinary people trying to communicate in and out of the incident area.  This has happened in all the recent natural disasters like Katrina and Sandy, and a "nuclear disaster" will be worse.  Ham radio traffic nets would be a valuable adjunct to the official response, if only we had the capability.  The issue is mostly not infrastructure, as many municipal EOCs have some kind of ham radio station already, and there are lots of hams with backup power capability.  The issue is engagement (that "critical mass" I mentioned), organization and training.  I don't think ARES is "outdated", the real problem is that most of us simply don't care enough to make it work.

In scenario #1 all bets are off.  Hams may be needed to help with more than just welfare comms.  I mentioned earlier a couple of events where hams were even tasked with tactical comms.  In 2013, hams in the High River AB kept first responders going for about 4 days until their repeaters were put back I/S.  In 2017, hams on St John island in the USVI provided ad hoc ATC for helicopters into the local hospital.  I think the issues for us here similar to above, just potentially much more demanding.  There are some infrastructure issues like long term backup repeater power supplies, but these are easy to solve - compared to the issues of engagement, organization and training.  Also in Scenario #1, local person-to-person comm will be impaired, meaning people can't help each other, in addition to the first responders being impaired.  This is where the community mesh net would be needed.  Infrastructure is clearly added to the issue list here, and we are way behind compared to "traditional" ARES comms.

As Adam said, only 3 members expressed interest in emergency comms.  Not a single person replied to the forum saying they were going to do RAC CEC or EMO IMO-100.  The Grey Co. EC isn't on here  & I don't know whether the Bruce Co. EC is following this thread (my bad, I should have informed him).  Forum posts and emails back and forth among ourselves will not develop any emergency capability.  I don't know how to reach and engage hams in GB, but I do know it's essential if we are ever to progress past forum posts and emails.

I really feel, as Adam said, that it's like beating a dead horse & I'm going to shut up now (wow I can hear the applause even with the rig off!), but I remain ready to help with anything.

73
Dave, VE3WI


ARES Grey Website - VA3TS Tom - 2021-04-11

A while back, the ARES group changed some key people, some retired after having done that for many years. They also had a yahhoo groups page but as you may be aware, yahoo groups is also no longer. So the club offered ARES Grey some webspace, I made them up a page to store their details and as a means to continue on with the group. This page has been set up so it could be easily transferred to a different domain so it can be a separate entity once again. If you haven't seen it go here   https://www.aresgrey.gbarc.ca/index.php

73


RE: ARES Grey Website - Adam_VE3FP - 2021-04-11

(2021-04-11, 02:49:27)VA3TS Tom Wrote:  A while back, the ARES group changed some key people, some retired after having done that for many years. They also had a yahhoo groups page but as you may be aware, yahoo groups is also no longer. So the club offered ARES Grey some webspace, I made them up a page to store their details and as a means to continue on with the group. This page has been set up so it could be easily transferred to a different domain so it can be a separate entity once again. If you haven't seen it go here   https://www.aresgrey.gbarc.ca/index.php

73

In my opinion the whole thread "Emergency Communication" should be part of "ARESgrey". Whoever manages that site should create a discussion forum for ARES members and/or have separate ARES Zoom meets.
Just a thought .....



RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - VA3TS Tom - 2021-04-11

Right now, we, meaning GBARC and ME manages the site, it is a sub domain of gbarc.ca. It was either put it here, or not have one at all. At this time Frank GUF is the EC and is the recipient of all correspondence the aresgrey page may generate, if any, I am not in the loop on this.

73


RE: OPINION: ARES is Dead; Let's Bury It. - marvin.double - 2021-04-11

(2021-04-11, 04:29:38)VA3TS Tom Wrote:  Right now, we, meaning GBARC and ME manages the site, it is a sub domain of gbarc.ca. It was either put it here, or not have one at all. At this time Frank GUF is the EC and is the recipient of all correspondence the aresgrey page may generate, if any, I am not in the loop on this.

73
Thanks for the link to the ARES Grey County website. I've had a look and will likely also be in touch with Frank to discuss my mesh net project further.