Next Meeting
Friday, September 6, 2019

"Amateur Radio Communications During Disasters"
Alan Thompson, W6WN

Presentation Summary:

Most of us nowadays depend entirely upon cell-phone and Internet services to stay in touch with our friends and families. These services, in turn, depend upon billions of dollars of technology not to fail. The last few years have seen a dramatic rise in the frequency and intensity of storms, fires, power shutdowns, and other natural and man-made disasters - events which often disrupt these vital communications services. Recent examples include 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Carr and Camp Fires, and Hurricanes Sandy, Katrina, Maria and Irma, which wiped out cell and Internet communications, sometimes for days or weeks. With the ever-increasing impacts of climate change and political tensions, these disasters may only become more frequent and more intense - putting us all at greater risk.

For years, Ham Radio Operators have stood ready to use Radio during these kinds of emergencies to help restore communications when normal communications fail. This has worked well to aid First Responders like the Red Cross. However, it has become increasingly critical for the average citizen to also have alternative methods to communicate when cell phone and Internet services fail. Getting a Ham Radio license is not for everyone, and requires passing a technical exam well beyond the interests or capability of most average citizens.

In this talk, Radio For The Rest of Us, Alan Thompson will highlight these cell phone and Internet service vulnerabilities, and how our unconscious over-reliance on cell phones for virtually everything puts us at serious risk. He'll also suggest ways how "the rest of us" might help ourselves, our friends, our families and community stay safer in the face of cell-phone and Internet service failures.
Presentation Outline:

  1. Profiles of recent disasters, and catastrophic points of failure that impacted emergency communications, alerts, and evacuations, placing people at risk
  2. Coverage and comparisons of various communications tools, backups and alternatives to cell phones 
  3. "Radio For The Rest of Us" programs to support citizen-to-citizen emergency communications in our own, local communities
  4. The opportunity for Ham Radio Operators and Clubs to lead the way in implementing and sustaining these programs, and thereby help to ensure the future of the hobby

About Alan Thompson:

Alan Thompson is a licensed Amateur Radio Operator who grew up and still lives in Placerville California. He's the Owner and Field Engineer for El Dorado Networks in Diamond Springs, and provides satellite Internet systems installations and maintenance services for businesses and governmental organizations including Facebook, Intelsat, Bank of America / Merrill Lynch, the Department of Defense, and the Federal Aviation Administration. On one of his most recent projects, he was part of a Disaster Recovery Team that installed several satellite Internet backup systems to help restore cell-phone service ten days after the 2018 Camp Fire rubbed out electronic communications in Paradise and Magalia.

See you all there !!

Past Meetings
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Club Meetings

The Palo Alto Amateur Radio Association meets on the 1st Friday of the month at 7:00 pm (19:00 J) (except when the first Friday lands on a holiday and typically moved to the 2nd Friday of the month).

PLEASE NOTE: The meeting location has changed. We will now be meeting in Meeting Room H6, in the Cubberley Community Center in Palo Alto. Further information is below.

Click Here For Detailed Driving Directions

Location: Cubberley Community Center; 4000 Middflefield Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303.
Telephone: (650) 329-2418.

After the meeting, many members gather for beer, pizza, and eyeball QSOs at Pizza Chicago, located at 4115 El Camino Real, in Palo Alto..

Board Meetings

The PAARA Board meets on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at 7:00 pm at the home of Marty Wayne, W6NEV.  Address is: 1039 Bryant Way, Sunnyvale, CA.  We conduct most of our club business there in order to allow more time for guest speakers and socializing at regular club meetings.  Any PAARA member is welcome to attend.

A few meetings throughout the year have pre-defined agenda items. These include:

September Board Meeting
The Nominating Committee is appointed by the President to decide on a slate of candidates to be recommended to the membership.

October General Meeting
The Nominating Committee presents its nominations to the membership at the regular club meeting.  Nominations from club members opens at the beginning of the meeting, and closes at the end of the meeting.

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