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CAP Talk  |  Operations  |  Emergency Services & Operations  |  Topic: Alerting the unit
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hfriday
Member

Posts: 61
Unit: NER-VT-034

« on: October 23, 2019, 06:52:03 PM »

As our squadron's ES officer, I recently planned a unit alert. There are only nine of us in this particular corner of Vermont, so I didn't figure it would take long to call everyone.

Someone asked, hey, why don't we do that by group text message? Then we will also all have a forum for informal ALCON messages, which will be handy. When we have the C182 that rotates around the state, if someone is planning a flight, they can solicit other crew for a training mission that way, too.

Win-win, right?

Well, the thing about Vermont is the doggone cell coverage is BAD. Only four of our members received the alert in a timely way, and one STILL has not, some weeks later.

That led to a totally different conversation: can we even trust an alert to cell phone calls if the stuff hits the fan?

I said, probably not, sir, and I will look into other options for unit alert. I supposed some sort of pager/beeper system would suffice, but I don't know on what technological principles those run. Is it still dependent on cellular service, or something else entirely? Our infrastructure in these parts isn't the greatest. What would members in other remote areas recommend?
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Eclipse
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« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2019, 06:57:32 PM »

Use something that rides the data layer instead of the cell layer like Hangouts w/ GVoice.
That way you can also get and send alerts on the desk.

Areas with poor coverage have unique needs, regardless, but the reality is if the SHTF hard enough to
take cell sites down for an appreciable amount of time, CAP isn't involved, at least not the first few weeks, if ever.
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Holding Pattern
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Posts: 1,537
Unit: Victory

« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2019, 07:15:49 PM »

can we even trust an alert to cell phone calls if the stuff hits the fan?

How are ham radios in your area, or CAP repeater coverage? If you have good repeater coverage you can use an operator to transmit an activation notice.

Such usage would need to be based on triggers whereby members know to self-elevate their alert level.

Example: "In the event of a non-localized power outage/you become aware of an active SAR event/disaster in the area, CAP members checking for activation notices will call (XXX)XXX-XXXX which is a voicemail number that will give a message with our current alert status and standing orders. Monitor VHF frequency XXX.XXXX or CAP GUARD/Romeo XX at XXXX hours, and at the top of each/every third/every XXth hour thereafter."
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xyzzy
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Posts: 76

« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2019, 05:02:34 PM »

You could ask the members who have given up their land-lines to identify neighbors who still have them who would be willing to hand-deliver urgent messages. Of course, these landlines can't to text so would have to be called by a person.

Another option would be to identify members who possess a land line who live near the cell-only members. They could be provided the home address of the cell-only members and hand-deliver urgent messages.
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PHall
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« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2019, 05:21:44 PM »

You know, it's been my observation that it's mostly people who live in an area with good cell phone coverage who are the one's who "give up" their land line.
People who have crappy or no service tend to keep a land line.
Just an observation of a 30+ year employee of the phone company.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2019, 05:42:56 PM »

Isn't the backend of the POTS network mostly VOIP now anyway?
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PHall
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« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2019, 07:09:56 PM »

Isn't the backend of the POTS network mostly VOIP now anyway?

Nope. It is multiplexed and digitized so it can run on fiber optic cables between central offices.
VOIP only happens when you are getting your internet access via either the phone company or the cable company's facilities or if you have fiber optics straight to your house.

And you can get regular old analog pots dial tone even if you are getting internet from the phone company.
Many alarm systems and fax machines do not like digital dial tone. It's too noisy electronically. They like the smooth waveforms of an analog line.
We combine the signals at the neighborhood junction box and split them back up at the Network Interface on the side of your house using a splitter.
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Holding Pattern
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Unit: Victory

« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2019, 07:26:38 PM »

Why is it that we still don't have a national alerting system that has delegates for each command level? It would be cheaper to use one system than 1000 systems and the administrative burden would be much lower as well.
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PHall
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« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2019, 07:42:42 PM »

Why is it that we still don't have a national alerting system that has delegates for each command level? It would be cheaper to use one system than 1000 systems and the administrative burden would be much lower as well.

How big is this country? And who do you have in mind who's going to pay for it?
It's not like we're first responders, because we aren't.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2019, 07:46:52 PM »

Why is it that we still don't have a national alerting system that has delegates for each command level?

Because it is unnecessary.
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Holding Pattern
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Unit: Victory

« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2019, 08:00:58 PM »

Why is it that we still don't have a national alerting system that has delegates for each command level?

Because it is unnecessary.

Right, this is why we have people asking about alerting procedures on a regular basis, because no one needs it.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2019, 08:36:40 PM »

Why is it that we still don't have a national alerting system that has delegates for each command level?

Because it is unnecessary.

Right, this is why we have people asking about alerting procedures on a regular basis, because no one needs it.

Who are you alerting about what?

A significant percentage of the membership, including CC's, have no involvement whatsoever in Emergency Services,
nor interest or ability to participate.

NHQ has been pushing this idea through the Comms guys for a decade that NHQ needs to be able to contact
every unit CC, who in turn can track down all their members, in time of crisis and emergency.

For what?

If it hits the fan hard enough to knock off the commercial communications infrastructure of this country,
CAP is not only not going to be involved in any substantial way, but the membership is not going to be worried
about contacting NHQ.

Anything short of that and the cell sites heal and the existing networks are sufficient.

As to "people asking about", etc., people ask about a lot of things.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2019, 08:44:08 PM by Eclipse » Report to moderator   Logged


hfriday
Member

Posts: 61
Unit: NER-VT-034

« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2019, 12:56:51 PM »

Our tiny senior squadron has only occasional interaction with cadet programs, and our AE outreach is minimal. So the main reason we exist is for ES. We have had two aviation accidents in our area of responsibility in the past few years, for whatever reason, so I want to make sure that if that trend continues, we can cobble together an aircrew at a minimum ASAP.

Communications technology is waaayyy beyond me, so a lot of what I am seeing in replies here is pure Greek to me.

The problem with landlines is they only work if someone is sitting at home. How many of us are really home for much more than meals and sleep? Cell phones can reach someone - theoretically - anywhere. I was hoping for a similarly portable system that didn't rely on cellular coverage....but it kind of looks like a dead end.
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xyzzy
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Posts: 76

« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2019, 02:43:15 PM »

The only thing I can think of that can match the coverage of the cell phone network is satellites, such as Iridium. This service is prohibitively expensive. First responders have repeaters that might cover better than cell phones in some areas, but each organization is separate and seldom cover more than a county. Plus, you would have to make arrangements with the organization and get a pager. If they would even discuss adding you to their system, they'd probably expect you to pay our fair share of the system operation and upkeep costs.

To make good use of cell phones, you could text. Those can be picked up when the user drives through an area with coverage, even if they are not in coverage when the text goes out. But delivery times can be inconsistent.
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etodd
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« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2019, 04:31:15 PM »

Will vary so much depending on your location and where your members live.  For us, text works just fine when we need an aircrew. All crew members are in areas of good cell coverage, whether at home or work.  The folks on the Cadet side seem to have good luck with text as well. Usually doubled up by texting the parent's cell as well as the Cadet's.
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