The XIX International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 2 General Assembly in Viña del Mar, Chile, from October 10 to 14, 2016, addressed many aspects involving the promotion and defence of Amateur Radio band plans for HF, VHF and higher bands and other issues of importance to Member Societies in Region 2. RAC was represented by President Glenn MacDonell, VE3XRA and George Gorsline, VE3YV, who is RAC's International Affairs Officer and also the IARU Region 2 Director for Area A.
Radio Amateurs from across the Americas including Canada, the US and many Latin American countries participated in an Emergency Communications Workshop which built on a similar set of Region 2 meetings held in Mexico in 2013.
Emergency communications is critical in one of the most geologically active parts of the world. Amateurs from Ecuador who provided much needed communications in the massive earthquake on April 16, 2016 that resulted in much loss of life and property damage in their country described their operations. Representatives of several countries described their activities immediately before and during the recent Hurricane Mathew.Other presentations highlighted new technologies that can be used in emergency situations.
The workshop was organized by Mike Corey, KI1U, who is also a member of RAC. Mike has provided the following press release describing the workshop.
IARU R2 Press Release: General Assembly – IARU Region 2 Emergency Communications Workshop
The second IARU Region 2 Emergency Communications Workshop was held October 11, 2016 in Viña del Mar, Chile in conjunction with the IARU Region 2 XIX General Assembly. The workshop was sponsored by IARU Region 2 and the American Radio Relay League. The event was chaired by Mike Corey, KI1U, Emergency Preparedness Manager for the American Radio Relay League and IARU Area B Emergency Coordinator. The event co-chair was Dr. Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P, IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinator. Representing the IARU Region 2 Executive Committee was Reinaldo Leandro, YV5AM IARU Region 2 President.
The event featured speakers on topics that relate to international issues facing Amateur Radio’s response to emergencies and disasters. Speakers represented national societies and organizations with an international scope: FederaciónMexicana de Radioexperimentadores(FMRE), Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN), International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Radio Club de Chile (RCC), Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (AREDN), and Radio Club de Venezolano(RCV). Topics covered the use of Winlink, SATERN support for Salvation Army disaster response, the role of ITU, developing operator and communications skills, AREDN mesh networking technology for disaster response, and emergency communications response in Venezuela. Dr. Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P, provided an overview of emergency communications activities in IARU Region 2 since the last workshop in 2013. Mike Corey, KI1U, briefed attendees on the findings from the 2013 Emergency Communications Workshop in Cancun.
Attendees represented many nations in and outside of region 2; Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Honduras, India, Trinidad and Tobago, US, Canada, and Mexico.
Since the first IARU Region 2 Emergency Communications Workshop in 2013, a critical project, the IARU emergency communications handbook, has made significant progress. In 2015 IARU published the IARU Emergency Telecommunications Guide. In 2016 an updated version was published. Plans are in place to make regular updates and improvements to the guide. The guide is available through the IARU website.
The discussion, both inside and outside the workshop, focused on the themes discussed in the first workshop as well as new focus area to address in IARU Region 2.
1) There continues to be a need for greater public education on the value of Amateur Radio. Specific ideas discussed included availability of print material and social media presence for IARU Region 2 emergency activities.
2) Events such as the Nepal and Ecuador earthquakes and the Philippines typhoon demonstrated the need for cached Amateur Radio equipment that can be deployed to support emergency communications activities. The IARU should consider approaching ITU with a plan to provide such resources to the ITU cached telecommunications equipment program.
3) The availability of platforms such as Google Hangout, Skype, and similar virtual meeting programs make it possible to connect those in IARU Region 2 involved with Amateur Radio emergency communications. This could allow for coordination, training, and preparedness networking. Additionally it may provide a means for youth participation in virtual emergency communications workshops.
4) Exercises such as Cascadia Rising and Pacific Endeavor and events such as the Nepal earthquake, Ecuador earthquake and hurricane Matthew demonstrate the unique ability of radio amateurs to work together across political boundaries. Cross border and multinational exercises provide a way to practice our response capability to be prepared for large scale disasters. The IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinators should work together to develop a protocol to design, implement, evaluate and report on such exercises.
5) Traditional means of Amateur Radio communication, such as voice and CW, are vital to our ability to provide emergency communications in IARU Region 2. We must encourage the development of operator skills through on air activity and continued training. Additionally, due to new and emerging communications needs, we must encourage the wide use of new technologies -radio email such as Winlink, mesh networking protocols like that presented by AREDN, weak signal modes, and improved health and welfare messaging –so to meet the needs of served agencies.
6) We must continue to work on the IARU Emergency Telecommunications Guide ensuring that it is relevant and useful to radio amateurs through regular updates and improvements.
7) The IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinators will explore the possibility of an online emergency communications resource library to be made available to IARU Region 2 member societies and Amateur Radio emergency communications enthusiasts.
8) The IARU Region 2 Emergency Communications Workshop provides a one of a kind opportunity for Amateurs involved in emergency communications in the region to come together, share ideas, network, and improve response capability within their respective national societies.
Attendees, presenters and organizers noted the positive feedback and response and look forward to the next workshop.
Attendance at the workshop was higher than expected, a 30% increase over the 2013 workshop, and it was determined that the workshop was successful in accomplishing its goals
- Sharing information on Amateur Radio response to emergencies in the region.
- Increasing the capacity for Amateurs in Region 2 to respond to large scale, multinational communication emergencies.
- Provide an opportunity for national level Amateur Radio emergency communications leaders to network and increase the level of cooperation and collaboration within the IARU Region 2.
- Build upon topics and discussions from the previous emergency communications workshop and about specific events that transpired since the first workshop.
The presentations and additional material from this workshop will be made available on the IARU Region 2 website after the General Assembly concludes. A third emergency communications workshop will be proposed at a later date to follow up on the progress from the efforts initiated here. Comments and questions can be directed to the workshop chairs; Mike Corey, KI1U, (English) and Dr. Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P, (Español)
Mike Corey, KI1U
Emergency Communications Workshop Chairman
Dr. Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P
Emergency Communications Workshop Co-chairman