Emergency Internet Access
We aim to provide Park Cities amateur radio operators with data service even when traditional internet and cell providers have failed. The already existing system is called AREDN (Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network) and we need only tap into it. While access to the system is limited to licensed ham radio operators, hams can serve as a conduits for crucial information during widespread outages…of course, you could become a ham yourself! Remember the 2021 Texas Icepocalypse? Remember how you didn’t have electricity and even if your cell phone was charged, websites and email were impossibly slow at best? We do, and we intend to provide as many neighborhood points of AREDN access as possible so that life in Park Cities can remain as safe, informed, and productive as possible.
Knighting New Amateur Radio Operators
PCARC is working to build a Volunteer Examiner Team that is qualified to administer the tests required by the Federal Communication Commission to convert “Uncooked Hams” to ham radio operators. PCARC President, Dawson Lightfoot has already obtained his Volunteer Examiner (VE) credentials and other members are working toward the same. It takes a minimum of three VEs to administer a test.
Training and Mentoring for Prospective Amateur Radio Operators
Preparing “Uncooked Hams” (people interested in becoming a ham) for the FCC testing need not be stressful or something that is undertaken alone. If you are interested in getting licensed, members of PCARC are willing to consult and mentor you through the process, whether informally or in a group setting. Don’t feel overwhelmed…for decades, children under the age of 10 have accomplished licensure. More than simply “teaching to the test,” it is not uncommon for lifelong friendships to be formed between newbies and their newfound Elmers (the traditional nickname for a ham radio mentor). Elmers are crucial to the continuance of the hobby and they often train, literally, multiple generations of hams. The ham radio community is giving and diverse.
Park Cities EARS™ (Easy Access Radio System™) – “Radio for the rest of us.”
While hard to believe, not everyone wants to become a licensed amateur radio operator. Getting licensed does require time, energy, learning, and testing. We at PCARC understand that the hobby is not for everyone and for a variety of reasons. HOWEVER, we do know that use of radios can save lives and property as well as build a sense of community amongst actual people who exist right in front of your face – your neighbors! Modern social media seems to have nearly dismantled neighborly connections and may more appropriately be considered “anti-social” media. We at PCARC endeavor to reinvigorate personal connection in our community and ham radio is the perfect vehicle for doing so. In fact, ham radio has recently been dubbed “The Original Social Network.”
Social benefit is not the only goal of Park Cities EARS™. This program also aims to provision and train every interested Park Cities household with the equipment and knowhow needed to operate non-ham radios (General Mobile Radio Service or GMRS) for emergency backup communication when all other forms of communication have failed. Once a critical mass of support is obtained, this will be a capstone project for PCARC. It will take considerable resources, including volunteer time (both club members and EARS participants). However, in the end, Park Cities will have its own robust radio communication backup system for use by you – the average resident of Park Cities.
PCARC cannot claim to be the first to implement such a program, but that is great because we have seen success elsewhere and in locales where catastrophes like forest fires are a regular threat. While Park Cities EARS™ will be customized to the unique needs of our community, a good example is the groundbreaking Neighborhood Radio Watch program of the El Dorado County Amateur Radio Club in Placerville, CA.
Most generally, the program requires ham radio operators and equipment, GMRS equipment for participant use, and a willingness of participants to regularly practice using their equipment by attending scheduled “nets” (managed on-air conversations). These programs have been shown to not only provide the emergency communication backbone we all benefit from, but also a tighter knit community since the practice is often simply holding social conversations in an organized manner. Wouldn’t it be great if YOU were the source of information that helped a neighbor in need? Wouldn’t it be useful to know what is happening directly from neighbors even when cell phones and internet aren’t working and it may not be safe to be outdoors?
Below is an unofficial map of Park Cities EARS™ regions – could you serve as a block captain or a regional director? Of course you can – and we’ll help you! Ideally regional directors will be licensed ham operators while block captains and all other participants can simply utilize GMRS equipment.
Please be on the lookout for more information about Park Cities EARS™ and how to join in the effort!