As a newly licensed ham (WH6DZJ), I was excited about this weekend’s ARRL sponsored EARC Field Day. It’s a nationwide event that brings together hams to show off their gear, make some far away contacts and like Amy Akina, (KH6AMY) says, “make some eyeball QSO”. Before social networks and the smartphone, ham radio operators were creating their social nets (nightly round table checkins) and advancing wireless communications.
I remember last week when I mentioned to Noe Tanigawa at Hawaii Public Radio, right before our weekly Bytemarks Cafe, that both Ryan (WH6DZK) and I got our ham radio license, she said, “why are you guys going back in time?” To be honest, for me it was social networks.
Interestingly, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have become a snapshot of what is happening with your distributed community of friends and family. I started to get interested in the use of social media for news and the reporting of emergencies, especially natural disasters. I realized it would be very useful if you could somehow determine who were the trusted sources in social media and with their help, cull through the deluge of information to assist existing emergency managers during a natural disaster.
Well guess what, that lead me back to amateur radio. They’ve been in existence for many decades doing exactly that, providing communication services in the event of an emergency. They’ve honed their technical expertise and communications protocol to effectively and efficiently manage information in the field and work with emergency agencies like State Civil Defense, City DEM and the Hawaii Chapter of the American Red Cross. Along with the nudging and help from Ron Hashiro (AH6RH) and Keith Higa (WH7GG), that’s what motivated me to get my Technicians license.
So for me, if I want to learn how to better use social media and the Internet for emergency management, it is best to start with the original emergency communicators and the emergency amateur radio club (EARC). What better way to learn than to jump in with both feet, to learn about ham radio and a chance to get back into the electronics of radio. I always wanted to build my own radio station and now I have that chance.