Monday, August 05, 2013

Ham Radio An Essential In(Ter)Vention

Ham radios are not mere communication tools, but saviours too, when a disaster strikes. The National institute of Amateur Radio, NIAR, at Somajiguda, Hyderabad sent its expert hams (those who can operate the ham radio) to Uttarakhand for relief operations 
L Sailaja Kumar
Director NIAR, Rammohan Suri briefed Hans India about the ground realities, operational hazards and the potential of ham radios. Amidst the havoc that floods wreaked the ray of hope that ham radio sprang during the whole operation was commended by one and all.
Armed with the necessary components apart from the Ham unit (including power backups), four 'hams'(from here)—as the ham operators are called, set on a tedious sojourn to set up the Control Room at Dehradun, Scouts and Guides Headquarters , to save thousands stranded in the recent Uttarakhand floods.
One of their ham experts, Jose set up the control room at Dehradun, Scouts and Guides Headquarters and was in-charge of the same. He recalls the harrowing damage, gruesome ground realities and need for help. He says several teams, including voluntary organizations, were already there, trying to reach out help, by the time they reached. He says it's only during disasters like these do we know that humanity is still alive.
Rammohan explains ham radio…
What was NIAR's role in the recent Uttarakhand disaster?
Addressing the outburst of initial anxiety, helping people to stay in touch and keeping the communication continuously on, were the tasks of ham radio. We had a deluge of mails and messages from anxious relatives of those stranded in the area. Though the ham radio relays the message to the appointed government stations , we still received calls, mails and messages through out that period.
A team of two hams with necessary HF and VHF communication stations was deployed to Uttarakhand Scouts and Guides organisation whose members were already working alongside other agencies providing rescue and relief activities in the state.
What is Amatuer radio?
Amateur Radio is a people's forum, a form of two-way communication that puts hundreds and thousands of people all over the world in contact with each other every day. Amateur Service means a service of Self training,
These Amateur Radio operators construct or possess, maintain and operate their wireless stations (i.e. Transmitter, Receiver, Antenna etc.,). Amateur Radio is often called as 'HAM Radio' and Amateur Radio operators are called as 'Hams'. It is usually practiced as a hobby all over the world. There is some cost involved even to promote and develop hobby communication like Amateur Radio worldwide. Any citizen above the age of 12 years in India can obtain an Amateur Station Operator license from Government of India.
How did ham radio work?
The Ham network used High Frequency communication Stations for regional communication for relay of messages with in the affected region and Long distance communication for relay of health and welfare traffic, enquiry of missing and stranded persons at different locations. The local communications within the affected area was made using the Very High Frequency sets (Walkie-Talkies). Each station setup had communication capabilities for Local to long distance communications.
In terms of arrangements from your end can you list out the perquisites for a calamity like this?
An organised and efficient Amateur Radio (Ham radio) network is very essential to meet the communication needs for disaster management. Amateur Radio service is a dispersed and decentralized communications system manned by individuals and institutions that can't be easily shut down by disasters including terrorist attack. Also these are not likely targets of terrorists or agencies that involve in violence against governments & their systems. While public safety agencies rely on central dispatch stations, amateur radio operators can go on the air just about anywhere anytime. Hams are trained communicators with technical knowledge that prepares them to put their stations on the air at remote sites quickly, creating makeshift facilities whenever wherever needed.
Amateur radio operators don't have to wait for technicians to arrive to repair equipment or re-program computers, Hams can do it themselves. During non-emergencies, Amateur Radio Operators can provide communications for events such as fairs, festivals, sports and community events. Hams are also among the best ambassadors of good will communicating with over 3 million people world-wide and improve their skills.


Jose Jacob, VU2JOS
National Institute of Amateur Radio 
Hyderabad, India
Mobile: +91 94416 96043 [ Via dx_india YG]