News in the world of disasters is a bit bittersweet this week, with some good and some bad. Amateur radio operators continue to play an important role in various parts of the world.
Good news is that the need for fulltime communications in the Nepal earthquake zone has diminished, as agencies inside the country repair their systems, and only one or two specific scheduled transmissions take place each day. However, aftershocks continue, with a magnitude 4 shock registered yesterday.
The American amateur community is basking in the afterglow of the Dayton Hamvention which took place last weekend, celebrating the 100th year of the ARRL's existence. To coincide with the Hamvention, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, or ARES, announced an updated Manual, split into an ARES manual, and a National Traffic Service, or NTS, training manual. This is the first update in 20 years, includes a range of modern resources and discussions, and will be available online as a downloaded PDF document.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor, and radio amateur Dava Newman, KB1HIK, has been sworn in as the deputy administrator of NASA. Newman is Apollo Professor of Astronautics and Engineering Systems and the director of the Technology and Policy Program at MIT. Newman had been on the MIT faculty since 1993. Her research has included modelling human performance in low and microgravity conditions, examining the dynamics and control of astronaut motion, and the development of assisted walking devices for the physically handicapped. Possibly her most prominent project has been the development of the BioSuit, a skintight spacesuit that would give astronauts unprecedented comfort and freedom in exploration of planetary surfaces and extra-vehicular activity. This is a good example of amateur radio being at the cutting edge of modern technology.
International rescue services have been given a shot in the arm by the company Iridium Communications, a satellite communications company that offers global voice and data communications coverage, and which has donated new emergency telecommunication equipment to ITU.
The donation, which consists of 25 satellite phones and batteries, will strengthen ITU’s telecommunication capacity in response to natural disasters.
Iridium, a long-standing member of the ITU, has been assisting ITU with emergency telecommunications since 2007, when the first Iridium handheld mobile satellite phones and solar batteries were donated to the Union.
ITU secretary general Houlin Zhao said, “This new equipment donation, combined with the reliability of the Iridium network, will greatly boost ITU’s capacity in deploying telecommunications during emergencies and will strengthen response and recovery mechanisms.”
“Iridium’s donation comes at a critical time when natural disasters are on the increase,” said Brahima Sanou, director, ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau.
“This partnership confirms our continued commitment to using technology to save lives,” added Sanou.
Recently, ITU deployed 35 satellite mobile phones and 10 Broadband Global Area Network terminals to earthquake-stricken Nepal. The equipment, which included Iridium satellite phones, ensures timely flow of information that is much needed by government agencies and other humanitarian actors involved in rescue operations.
“The work ITU is doing in Nepal, as well as in other disaster-stricken areas, is vital,” said Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium.
“After an event such as this series of earthquakes, much of the telecom infrastructure is often damaged or destroyed, making the need for communications supported by a global, reliable satellite network crucial to the recovery work that will occur in the days and weeks to come. We’re proud to be a part of this work and hope our contributions will help with the relief and rebuilding efforts,” added Desch.
Western Cape Deputy Regional Director Grant Southey ZS1GS has been heavily involved in the continuing search for the young hiker on Table Mountain and Devil's Peak, who still remains unaccounted for. Grant has published reports on the well-supported search activities in the last week, in which Hamnet members, family members of the lost hiker, and other members of the public have taken part. At best 8 of our members have been in the field over the weekends when they were not at work, either helping to search, or coordinating searchers, manning temporary relay points, or acting as temporary digipeaters for APRS tracking. Search activities were called off yesterday (Saturday) because of bad weather, but have been reinstated today, while the likelihood of finding the man alive regretfully diminishes. Thank you to those committed volunteers.
Finally, we wish a week of relaxation as well as anxiety to those who wrote the RAE on Thursday evening! We hope you read of your success in the exams soon, and look forward to welcoming you to the Hamnet membership as soon as you put out your first call!
This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR for Hamnet in South Africa