Chris Gryffenberg, ZS6COG, Hamnet's Gauteng South Regional Director reports that he presented an overview of what radio amateurs belonging to Hamnet could offer to the community at the Provincial Disaster Management Advisory Forum in Boksburg on Thursday. Amongst several reports from other agencies at the forum, Chris did a PowerPoint Presentation highlighting those aspects of Hamnet's activities of benefit, which seems to have been favourably received. Thank you, Chris, for advancing the understanding of the authorities of our capabilities.
In a communiqué issued by The City of Cape Town this week, it was announced that advances have been made to the digital radio communications network as part of its disaster strategy. The system improves intercommunications, response times and provides reliable and effective communications during special events, emergencies and disasters, said mayoral committee member for corporate services Xanthea Limberg. Over and above the public safety functionality, reliability, availability and the essential intercommunication during peak times that the system offers, it has proved to be financially feasible in that the total cost of ownership per radio is less than, for instance, the cost to operate other private radio or cellphone networks. Motorola Solutions has provided the system, and now upgraded it to a state where it is now better able to continue operating, despite power outages or major incidents such as floods and mountain fires.
Motorola Solutions managing director Vikela Rankin said the system is set up so that all the public safety agencies' communications across a range of radio groups remain secure and private. New GPS location tracking and mapping will allow the command centre to monitor users, such as police officers, and instantly dispatch services to their exact location.
Meanwhile, in Botswana, Communicators from more than 35 countries kicked off the weeklong Africa Endeavour 2015 Leader Seminar in Gaborone, on Aug. 24. The seminar, hosted by the Botswana Defence Force and sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, is a forum for leaders to improve communications among and between partner nations and regional and international organizations.
Africa Endeavour is an annual communications and information-sharing effort. More than 1,800 communications specialists from 40 countries, six African regional organizations and six international partner nations have participated in past Africa Endeavour events.
“Previous editions of Africa Endeavour were large exercises which focused on tactical and operational communications interoperability, and Africa Endeavour 2014 became the first iteration to focus primarily on strategic communications and lessons learned,” said Botswana Defence Force Maj. Gen. Gotsileene Morake, director of special services for the BDF.
A common theme through the opening remarks was the need for enhanced interoperability while supporting United Nations and African Union peacekeeping, humanitarian and disaster response missions. “Challenges that are affecting Africa are broad in nature and vary from one region to another,” said BDF Brig. Kenneth Kethibogile, director of communications for the BDF. “There is no one country that has all the resources to handle these challenges by itself, hence the need to think and prepare to operate in a multinational and multiagency environment."
In response to a natural disaster, the military is often the first responder on the scene—or second only to the local police. However, other government ministries likewise play a role in the response, bringing much needed expertise and support to their communities. Participants are taking part in three days of discussions before moving into a daylong tabletop exercise where the communications experts will put what they learn to the test.
Hamnet's FaceBook page is full of interesting topics which I recommend you have a look at. Francois ZS6BUU has drawn our attention to the start of the North Atlantic Hurricane Season's tropical storms, the first one named Danny, moving over Puerto Rico and towards Cuba. All amateurs are urged to listen very carefully on 80, 40 and 20 metres for the faintest sounds of emergency nets being run in the Caribbean, and if possible move several KHz away to prevent interference.
Then Mike Kramer has posted several pictures of the iSimangaliso Mountain Bike race last weekend, and it looks as though the riders had good weather to contend with. We look forward to a report perhaps from Keith Howes on the communications success of the event, and thank him and Mike for their organisational efforts for the race.
In addition, there's a short video posted by Jason Codd ZS1ZW, of an emergency helicopter that inched its way in to Platteklip Gorge on Table Mountain to rescue a runner injured in an event there. The nature of the race doesn't matter, but the slow and deliberate way in which the chopper hovered over the victim, raised his stretcher up to safety, and then backed very slowly out of the gorge is remarkable viewing.
Lastly, I wish just to recommend you Google "Robin Murphy TED Talk" and listen to this lady expound the value of the first day after any disaster as being the most important moment to assess the situation and provide the authorities with as much data as possible, because a few days delay at that stage can mean weeks of delay in deploying the best salvage operation. Do watch the 9 minute presentation on Robotics - it's certainly food for thought.
This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for Hamnet in South Africa.