Dependable HF Coverage Within 400 km

The Emergency Measures Radio Group (EMRG), also known as Ottawa ARES, provides communications for the City of Ottawa. From side to side or corner to corner, that is over 100 km, just within the City boundary. Since emergencies don't understand Municipal boundaries, it is possible that EMRG would need to communicate with neighbouring Municipalities or EMRG members may be assisting in a neighbouring Municipality, reliable medium range communications is important.

While some people only worry about preparing for "the big one", EMRG is focusing on solutions that provide short and medium range coverage, based on the assumption that it is extremely unlikely that a disaster will destroy all phone communications over more than 200 km. This would assume for example that if ALL phone communications has failed in the entire City of Ottawa, there will most likely be working communications systems in Cornwall, Brockville, Kingston, Arnprior, Renfrew or Hawksbury. We don't need to communicate directly with Vancouver on HF, we need to get information to a location that has normal communications systems working. Long range HF is a nice to have, but it is less likely to be needed and there are hundreds of amateurs who have HF and VHF stations at home that are willing to act as relays in an emergency.

The Ice Storm in 1998 is an example of a disaster that impacted phone coverage in some areas, but most phone communications within 20 km of an outage was working. Amateur repeaters were all working, but mobile coverage for the Red Cross was not available everywhere due to the coverage areas of the repeaters. While there are many repeaters in or around Ottawa and they have different coverage areas, there are still portions of the City that have poor or non existent mobile coverage. NVIS provides an opportunity to fill the coverage gap within the City and extend direct communications beyond the City boundaries.

Next Steps

There is lots of information available on the Internet, so the next step is to apply the information in Ottawa in order to understand how NVIS really operates and to determine if and how it can be applied here. We now have someone interested in exploring NVIS operation and the plan is to get a few more people interested so several stations can be operated in order to evaluate operation.

The neighbouring ARES group, Prescott Russell also has someone investigating NVIS, so the opportunity to work on this together exists, which also allows greater joint group testing. Any EMRG members who are interested, should send a note to ve3bqp@rac.ca to get involved with the NVIS team.