[Namaste-dev] Re: Interoperability through APCO-25

Ronald Nutter rnutter at networkref.com
Wed Jun 4 11:09:22 PDT 2008


I agree with the thoughts you expressed in your first paragraph.  Having 
spent 7 years as a volunteer first responder with Emergency Management 
dealing with communications, there are already solutions available to EM 
folks to interface with Amateur Radio when needed.  One set of 
frequencies that have to be carefully avoided at all costs are those for 
the PD.  I have read about more than one case where even in an 
emergency, an ham operator was cited for illegal use of frequencies.

While I agree that we need to be of service in the event of an 
emergency, we have to be careful of certain boundaries.


Daniel Schultz wrote:
> I have continued to mull this over during the past week. I still believe that
> it would be a mistake for us to design a system to be used by anyone other
> than radio amateurs operating under Part 97.
> The fact that "We amateurs are unencumbered by the NIH problems that have
> plagued the various governmental agencies." is precisely because we operate
> under Part 97, and the public service agencies do not. If we elect to design
> systems that operate outside of Part 97 we will be entering the same
> proprietary and bureaucratic world that designers of public safety radios deal
> with. In my 19 years of experience working as a government contractor I have
> witnessed firsthand the resistance that is offered by the bureaucracy to any
> truly revolutionary effort to change the existing way of life. The sort of
> free spirit experimentation that hams take for granted under Part 97 is a
> threat and anathema to officials who are trying to maintain their turf.  
> The argument that "during a real emergency, all the rules are irrelevant." is
> not appropriate, because the correct way to prepare for an emergency is to
> train and practice for it ahead of time, and then use those same procedures
> during the actual emergency, instead of making it up ad-hoc during the
> emergency. In any event, equipment needs to be designed and procured well
> ahead of the emergency.
> I have been involved in two projects (Stensat and one other) in which I
> started the initial project, and then asked for or received an offer of help
> by people who had access to money, resources and manpower. In both cases it
> started out as "We would like to help you with your project", very soon I was
> helping them with their project, and soon after they didn't need any more help
> from me. I don't want to see this happen to Amsat or to amateur radio in
> general. DHS has megabucks and while they may start out helping us with our
> project, soon it will become their project, and soon after that our help will
> no longer be required. Amsat will be reduced to the role of satellite
> contractor for DHS, and we will have no say in the operation or use of the
> system after it is launched. Some brilliant government bureaucrat will decide
> "now that public service agencies can talk directly to each other via
> satellite, what do we need the hams for?" Soon thereafter there will be
> Configuration Control Boards and amateur experimentation and casual rag
> chewing will no longer be allowed on what is now mission critical
> infrastructure. 
> I will refer you to this weeks ARRL letter: ARRL FILES COMMENTS IN TWO MATTERS
> BEFORE FCC: in which the League filed comments opposing the use of the 430-448
> MHz band by a robotic device designed for use by police and public service
> agencies: “such interference is not a comforting thought for licensed radio
> amateurs who could very easily be perceived to be, or held responsible for the
> failure or malfunction of these analog devices in a given application and the
> danger to public safety officers who are relying on them”.  The ARRL
> understands that public safety applications cannot coexist or directly share
> resources with the amateur radio service, it is likely to lead to
> misunderstandings at best and to hams being taken away in handcuffs at worst.
> Interference is not the main issue in our case, but public safety agencies are
> still not going to be comfortable sharing “their” resource with a bunch of
> undisciplined hams.
> The small, battery powered, handheld terminals that could be deployed to a
> "hot spot" need to be operated by persons licensed in the Amateur Radio
> Service or we risk losing the entire project. Better yet, instead of
> “deploying” these terminals during or after the emergency, they would
> already be in place ahead of the emergency, mounted on the rooftops of
> licensed hams who have been using them for everyday ragchewing, DX chasing,
> field day and emergency preparedness exercises long before their services are
> needed in the actual emergency. 
> For these reasons I maintain that the correct way to sell this project to DHS
> or other funding agencies is to explain that it is a way to enhance the
> capabilities of the Amateur Radio Service to respond to emergencies with a
> well trained and highly experienced corps of volunteer communicators who are
> already in place in every city and town in the US, available to serve as soon
> as they are needed. Attempting to intrude on the far different world that
> exists outside of Part 97 will subject us to the same political, bureaucratic
> and proprietary constraints that affect everybody else who tries to design
> radios for that service. At the very least, Amsat will need to write an iron
> clad contract with the funding agencies making it clear that this is first and
> foremost an amateur radio project, and that the informal ham way of getting
> things done is the very soul of the project and the only thing that makes it
> possible. That should prove interesting.
> Dan Schultz N8FGV
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