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What is an Emergency Ham Network Smart Phone System?



This document describes a possible peripheral for the imagined Emergency Ham Network. This could be the killer application for the network or just some ideas that is looking to find a problem. Only by writing this paper can that question be asked.

Why might we want to do this? What problem are we trying to solve?
  • How to communicate to and from the general public in a severe emergency that has taken down the cell phone and internet.
What are the consequences of not solving this?
  • Overloading and panic at staffed official offices, people moving on mass to find information when it might be better to have stayed at their home / business. Missing important public safety messages.
What might the advantages be?
  • Lowering the tension and anxiety of the general public during an emergency that has taken down the Cell Phone and local internet by providing a pocket of cell phone text messaging.
  • Providing a way nonemergency messages such as who is safe and wanting to let loved ones know, through to potentially lifesaving requests for medicine or help.
What is the opportunity?
  • It is assumed that the Emergency Services and Local Government will have their own Emergency Communications but limited chance to use them for more general and personal messages.
  • No clear plans appear to be in place for getting messages from the general public during an emergency that takes out the cell and internet systems.
  • Emergency Alert radio (EAS) will send general messages but requires a radio receiver or phone system. In an emergency, radios and such are no longer widely available.
  • Recent changes in climate and disease have heightened the need to more resilient emergency systems. This proposal has the potential to deliver a scalable system quickly.
  • Every local official office could potentially want one of these systems to manage and communicate with its local population. Even without the Amateur Radio interconnections, a local township might want to consider linking their various buildings to form a viable emergency network.

System Assumptions  

  1. The aim of this system is to provide an off-grid method of sending and receiving simple text messaging capabilities with a smart phone equipped with a suitable application. Except for the Emergency 911 type service, all messages would use the calling and caller cell phone numbers for identification and routing.Messages would be passed to and from the smart phone using conventional Wi-Fi signals and some form of standard packet transport service.
  2. A small local area would be covered by multiple high power Wi-Fi Hot Spots all linked by ethernet to a local server which would provide the application interface, web server for downloading the application and a public website for displaying important information. In a formally declared Emergency these messages would include those sent to the current emergency response network as well as any other messages authorized by the local emergency center. Undeliverable received messages would be displayed on this public website and also be passed the local command center and/ or the local PBS network. This will provide an electronic public message board so people can find each other and get notified who is safe.
  3. It must be made clear to users that this system is not private, other than in test mode, the system is likely to share users with authorities and make public any messages that are not delivered.
  4. This local server and Hot Spots would be capable of operating in isolation, creating an island of connectivity covering the extent of the Wi-Fi range. In a quiet environment perhaps 1000-foot circle could be expected, perhaps more if the terrain permits. This distance could well increase as technology and experimentation provides measured results.
  5. Local servers can be connected to other local servers and to a central server backbone using a mix of VHF/UHF point to point links or a link to a microwave backbone. Mobile local servers could be set up in public places such as municipal building or hospitals. This system is suited to places where there are a lot of people looking for help or information.
  6. This system will use encrypted transmissions for the Wi-Fi connection to the local server. This transmission will include encrypted identifiers to validate the pairing of application to server. This is permissible under Part 15 of the FCC code. No license is needed to send messages from to and from the phone.
  7. Initial deployments would only deliver messages to numbers that had enrolled on the system. These messages would be delivered through the standard carrier SMS service.If an outbound number is already registered on the system, it will be delivered internally without going to the SMS network. This means there should be a local server dB of registered numbers and a central roll up of all local servers. This implies a central db.
  8. All messages should be logged to the local server and also at the central server. Priority should be given to sending messages between servers over collecting log files.
  9. In an emergency, messages to non-registered users would be displayed on the server's website for anybody to see using a connected Wi-Fi equipped browser without any password login. This is so that website would become a public message board in the affected area.
  10. As part of registration the phone will receive any important messages and display them to the user.
  11. A general broadcast message to all registered phones should be supported so an important message can be broadcast quickly and effectively. Messages can be sent from the local operator or come through the link to the central server.
  12. The phone application will also make the phone act like a beacon if no local server can be found. This will help Emergency Services find the phone and its owners through finding and tracking the Wi-Fi signal.

  What do you all think? Add your comment below.

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Friday, 14 June 2024