Equipment to be used in the event of a widespread Internet outage to provide high-speed data services
– Paso Robles Radio Ranch owners John and Jane Thornton recently hosted the Cal Poly Amateur Radio Club to install equipment for use in the event of a widespread internet outage to provide high-speed data services in support of public safety.
“We are happy to be able to help these students with this project,” said John, “and to help them with their amateur radio operations.”
Paso Robles Radio Ranch provided the equipment and hosts the tower space. Radio Ranch is a commercial telecommunications facility whose owners, Jane and John Thornton, are also amateur radio operators.
The project titled AREDN – Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network will provide ad hoc wireless connections between many areas of San Luis Obispo County. Much of this network is built using donated surplus wireless internet equipment that is modified to operate on non-commercial amateur radio frequencies.
The project is supported by SLO County Communications and the San Luis Obispo Emergency Communications Board. Local communities are learning the benefits of the technology, and it is expected that many county emergency command centers will have access to it. The intent of the project is to provide video, email and telephone services between county areas as needed during an event.
The backbone of the project includes a wireless link between Paso Robles and Cuesta Peak and will include the cities of Paso Robles, Los Osos, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, and connects to Cuesta Peak and Cal Poly University. Future plans include expanding coverage to larger areas of San Luis Obispo County and interconnecting this network with one that extends to Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles.
Radio amateurs will hone their skills with technology on a daily basis by sharing video streams, IP phone connections, and emails that don’t depend on the Internet for transport. One of the goals of the Amateur Radio Service is to provide a pool of experienced radio operators and technicians who can meet public communication needs in the event of a disaster.
Skills developed can be used in support of fire, earthquake and evacuation center response. A similar volunteer effort in Ventura provided firefighters with real-time imagery of the Thomas Fire and helped provide the only images of the fire’s origin as well as the fire’s spread for the duration of the event.
-By Ruth Ann Angus