With Hurricane Katrina having knocked out nearly all the high-end emergency communications gear, 911 centers, cellphone towers and normal fixed phone lines in its path, ham-radio operators have begun to fill the information vacuum. "Right now, 99.9% of normal communications in the affected region is nonexistent," says David Gore, the man operating the ham radio in the Monroe shelter. "That's where we come in."So far, so good.
In an age of high-tech, real-time gadgetry, it's the decidedly unsexy ham radio -- whose technology has changed little since World War II -- that is in high demand in ravaged New Orleans and environs. The Red Cross issued a request for about 500 amateur radio operators -- known as "hams" -- for the 260 shelters it is erecting in the area. The American Radio Relay League, a national association of ham-radio operators, has been deluged with requests to find people in the region. The U.S. Coast Guard is looking for hams to help with its relief efforts.
I guess these people haven't seen any newer radios, like my Yaesu VX-5RS. The technology has change a lot, and not just the radios themselves. Aside from them, you now have Internet-linked repeaters like Echolink, IRLP, and eQSO to merge ham radio and VOIP.
Still, technical mistakes aside, it's nice to see ham radio getting some good press.