DST Communications tools


Red Cross Disaster Service Technology (DST) by definition supplies communications capabilities to our "served agency" which is to Red Cross functions such as Mass Care, Shelter management, Damage Assessment. When "All else fail's" during a disaster, Red Cross functions look to DST for communications to enable them to serve their clients - those who have been affected by the disaster event. The "Technology" part of DST means we are to develop, test, train and use, what ever technology that is  possible, to pass accurately and  efficiently, disaster message traffic using the communications tool that best meets the current need. If cell phones and the Internet are available then they can be used. But on the front end of a disaster, when ALL normal means of communications are destroyed, just how is message traffic to be passed out of the "Last Mile" in the disaster zone - out to where normal communications path's are available? (including no gateways)  Then DST MUST utilize what ever communications tool will meet the need. This can be the use of the obsolete 40 year old slow 1200 baud Packet, or FLDIGI, PACTOR, or High Speed VARA, on HF or VHF.  At this morning "Teams" meeting the efficient accurate high speed VARA communications "tool" - was rejected out of hand because it was "controlled" by one person. There are many communications technologies that have been "developed" by "one Person" We should be thankful that these highly skilled software developers have created communications tools that can be used during a disaster! Would I quit using my cell phone because it is "controlled" by Verizon? Should FLDIGI be avoided because is is "controlled" by "Dave W1HJK"? Should I quit using "Winlink, because it is "controlled by "Mike "XE2/N6KZB"? Should PC-ALE be avoided because it is "controlled" by  "Steve N2CKH", Should MARS-ALE not be used because it is "controlled' by "Steve N2CKH", Should PACTOR not to be used because it is "controlled" by SCS? Should we not use "Shares" because it is "controlled by "Steve" K4CJX? Should we then also reject Hi Speed VARA  because it was developed by "EA5HVK"? Yes VARA is "Controlled" by Jose after all HE WROTE the computer code for it! Who else would you choose to make upgrades to the program?? I have found Jose VERY responsive in making needed upgrades. Just this week, an issue came up when users of VARA-FM  had, (when trying to pass VARA traffic thru a FM Voice repeater)- of the VARA HF "time limits" dropping the connection because of the repeater "turn-around" time." Jose was notified of this problem, and in less than one day had changed the computer code to accommodate the transmission of VARA thru voice FM repeaters!!

The other complaint was the "cost" of VARA. Should Jose after hundred of hours of software development and on going maintenance, be deprived a small $69 dollar fee?? Speaking of costs: The "Masters Communications DRA50" modem kit is $50 or fully assembled and tested with case is $95. Would you prefer it yo be free?  The "Sgnalink USB" is $114.95. The Packet KPC3 is $199.95. 

Then there is speed of the traffic flow. If you had a stack of ICS213 and Red Cross 6409 forms to send - as well as H&W message traffic to send - which would you prefer? An Obsolete 1200 baud Packet link with all its overhead "handshaking"? OR would you prefer VARA-FM which can move traffic at over 25,000 bps!   The VARA HF can pass traffic at over 4000 bps.  VARA also offers high speed traffic using P2P direct or even thru a voice repeater, or on the existing gateway network.!  PACTOR can almost match VARA speeds on HF but the cost is $1628! 

I want to put this to a VOTE!    How many DST members would prefer passing disaster traffic on Packet or on VARA??   

73 Bruce   WA6DNT@...   WA6DNT@...     

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