[aprssig] APRS in Disaster area

Robert Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Sat Sep 3 08:25:48 CDT 2005

I think we are looking at two different perspectives.  
Pete is looking from the authoritative top down.
I'm looking from the bottom up at what an
individual (who is in the position to do something)
can do to re-constitute the APRS infrastructure.

Despite the prevailing attitude "let the government
come help me" senario which prevails, in most
disasters the bulk of the recovery is actually 
accomplished by the initiative of individuals starting 
in their own  back yards.

An example:
We had a severe series of storms pass through
the DC area last month.  A huge tree was down
across our neighborhood street (culdisac).  When 
I got to it, there were lots of neighbors stuck and calling
911 on their cell phones and bemoaning the 
situation.   I asked if anyone had a chain saw
and 3 of my neighbors said "well, yes, but we
should let the authorities remove it"...

Well, this was a big storm and the radio was reporting
hundreds of trees down in communities going out 30 
miles in all directions.  I suggested, that the "authorities"
had lots of other more important things to do in clearing
other more important thoroughfares, and even if we
waited it would be a week before they got to us on 
a dead-end culdisac trapping only 10 homes. 

I hiked back home and in less than 30 minutes with
my diminuative 14" bar saw had the limbs off and the trunk 
severed to where with the help of bystanders, we had
the street cleared for traffic.  Before any of the 3
neighbors reluctantly got their chain saws running.

In very large scale scenarios, there just can never be
enough "authoritative resources" to do everything for
everyone and "by the book".  At some point the top 
down "authorative" approach meets in the middle
the progress being made from the bottom up by
sentient self motivated individuals... "doing
what needs to be done"...

Sitting on one's hands and waiting for the 
"authorities" to come plays well in the text book,
but doing what you can where you are also 
contributes.  I agree with pete, the last thing
the "authorities" should be worring about is
re-constituting the APRS network.  But on the
flip side if someone is APRS capable, and is
in a position to do something, then it does not 
hurt for him to tune in 144.39, listened for a while, 
determine if the network is down, and if so, to 
activate his station as a digipeater until the system 
is back up.   With my one warning, and that
is that he not activate a digi AT or within
say a half mile of any other emergency
2m operations to maje sure not to add

And use common sense.  A commodity
that seems to sometimes be in short supply.


>>> HamLists at ametx.com 09/02/05 8:31 PM >>>
The time to do that "education" of the "ham authorities" is _before_ the
emergency, NOT during.  If they do not already have APRS in their
emergency plans, then individuals trying to "educate" them during the
emergency is counter-productive.  As I have consistently said throughout
my posts: "In an emergency situation, it is the AUTHORITIES in charge,
NOT the individual operators who decide what type of communications are
to be used and how those communications are to be used."  Those
authorities are government, ham, whoever is coordinating and managing
the available resources.  This is why your entire thread is

Yes, it would be nice to see APRS used in useful ways, and it apparently
is by the Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief organization.  However, your
posts specifically stated "I think it is far more productive to spend
our efforts on the periphery of the disaster to get digipeaters in
there." followed by a large amount of encouragement to operators to
waste their time trying to set up a network when it has not been
requested.  Leave the emergency communications to those on the ground in
the affected areas.  Don't try to promote APRS with the potential
volunteers which will prove to only be a harmful distraction if the
organizations they are being deployed with want their services for other

Whether you intended to or not, your posts basically promote "ham
anarchy" with regards to playing with APRS in the affected areas.  And I
intentionally use the word "playing" because it has no place in the
communications architecture if not desired by the authorities.  Again,
if the authorities want APRS, let _them_ request it.  Just because only
2% of the ham population know about APRS (your number) does not justify
trying to disrupt emergency operations to "educate" the others.


Pete Loveall AE5PL
mailto:pete at ae5pl.net 

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Robert Bruninga
> Posted At: Friday, September 02, 2005 5:41 PM
> Subject: RE: [aprssig] APRS in Disaster area
> >> Yes, of course, if they know how to, or have better ideas about 
> >> re-establishing the APRS network, then of course folllow 
> their lead.
> >> But in most areas, only 2% of the HAM population knows 
> anything about 
> >> APRS and has no clue how to "instruct" its re-constitution.
> >
> >You missed the point, Bob.  In an emergency situation, it is the 
> >AUTHORITIES in charge, NOT the individual operators who decide what 
> >type of communications are to be used and how those 
> communications are 
> >to be used.
> Actually, I think we agree on all of this.  It was the ham 
> radio "authorities", then, that I was offering the 
> recommendations to about how to best re-establish an APRS 
> infrastructure.
> As noted above, only 2% of HAM radio
> operators (including many of the "authorities" 
> have no experience with APRS.
> My offering was to educate who-ever is in the "authoritative" 
> position to make it happen, on ideas on how to reconstruct an 
> ad-hoc APRS 
> network.   Did not intend for it to be implying
> ham radio anarchy which seems to be how it is  being 
> intepreted by some...
> Bob

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