ARRL Briefs White House on Ham Radio

From the ARRL website:


On September 12, at the invitation of White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard A. Schmidt, W7HAS, the ARRL briefed several members of the National Security Staff on the capabilities of the Amateur Radio Service to communicate in emergencies. “The White House is looking for ways that the great work of Amateur Radio operators can continue to support emergencies in the future with particular attention to increased use and dependency on internet based technologies,” Schmidt said. The ARRL presentation, conducted by Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, W5MPC — along with President Kay Craigie, N3KN, and Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ — focused on Amateur Radio’s current and evolving capabilities to provide Internet messaging connectivity.

Wouldn’t you have loved to sit in on this presentation? Perhaps we can get the ARRL to post the slides to the website someday or maybe even make it the focus of a QST article. As I’ve mentioned before, it doesn’t appear to me that anyone is working on technical advances for emergency communications the way TAPR is working on software-defined radio and AMSAT is working on satellite communications. Maybe (hopefully?) I’m wrong about that, though.


  1. Geez, Dan …. whatever they come up with, I just hope they don’t end up screwing around with what we’ve already got. My trust in the Federal Government’s ability to improve things (other than roads and highways) is shaky at best. Just let us do our thing and stay out of our way as much as possible. Hams have been innovators for over 100 years.

    72 de Larry W2LJ

    • Dan KB6NU says:

      I’m not quite so pessimistic as you, Larry, about the government, Larry, but the point of this piece is that hams do have the ear of the administration, and that’s a good thing. Over and above that, though, hams have to meet the needs of the served agencies if we want to continue to play a role in emergency communications. Not only that, we can be leaders in this area, if we so choose, and imho, it’s gotta be more than just a bunch of guys with handhelds.

  2. Dave, N8SBE says:

    Reading between the lines, the government seems more interested in how to shore up an Internet that might break in a disaster scenario, and seems to think that hams could bridge the gaps with our nifty RF links. There are so many things wrong with that thinking, it’s hard to know where to start.

    One aspect of served agency issues that surfaced recently: Now that various agencies have been allowed to participate with their employees in emergency drills, they are whining that they can’t send ‘secure’ messages (i.e. encrypted). W3BE, John Johnston, writes a column for the QCWA journal, which is based on his website, BE Informed! at In the Fall 2011 QCWA column, he deals with folks trying to wordsmith their way into figuring out how to pass secret traffic using the rules that allow it for specific purposes, such as controlling a space station (satellite). Lack of ‘secure’ messaging is an issue for the Red Cross, for instance. There is a lot of their traffic that cannot be sent in the clear, for privacy reasons.

    There are some situations that ham radio is just not appropriate for, as it is currently laid out. Until or unless that situation changes, there are lots of things we just simply can’t help with.

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