Communicators Without Borders (CWB)
  • Disaster Resilient Communication
  • Flexible Radio Message Networks
  • w w w . v k c w . n e t / c w b

About CWB

CWB is an elite communicators network including skilled Morse Code CW operators who are able to pass formal messages at high speed over long distances. They may provide links in times of need forming a wide area formal messaging system and should participate in their national emergency communications networks (nets) wherever possible. They may liaise between various national or regional networks.

CWB is a transparent and inclusive program and offers an outstanding opportunity for those in areas without a viable formal message handling network to create one. Likewise, those municipalities or states with an independent emergency communications program are invited to work with CWB to develop and enhance a viable supplemental infrastructure designed to support medium and long-haul communications for emergency purposes.

Some of the goals of CWB include:

  • Implementing procedures for improved emergency communications response
  • Standardize training materials in the form of improved documentation and manuals
  • Viable and tested frequency matrices for use in events
  • Specific response guidelines for large-scale events
  • Improved consolidation of situational awareness reports for served agencies
  • Thorough review of policies and procedures

Obviously, none of this will happen overnight. However, CWB is on the way to creating a 21st century vision for formal message transmission, delivery and relays as well as emergency communications preparedness. Ideally, CWB will appeal to not just local EmComm programs, but the individual Communicator who wants to be prepared to serve his neighbors, community, relief agency or local area in time of emergency. In this latter case, CWB will offer access to a "ready-made" infrastructure ideal for individual preparedness. All that is necessary to get started will be a small investment of time and a microphone, TNC, or key.

CWB hopes to lead the way to the future of formal message handling and emergency communications preparedness.

ALERT: Active Local Emergency Response Team

Assisted by CWB in communications training, ALERT groups provide activation of NEAT and instant local area communications. ALERT members typically will use low power radio equipment to quickly assess needs and activate and coordinate NEAT as required. ALERT interface with CWB for the long distance transmission of data.

ALERT maintains a continuous operational structure with regular check-ins and tests of communications equipment, and activate instantly in the lead up to or the sudden arrival of a communications emergency.

For more on local operations working directly with the public see ALERT

NEAT: Neighborhood Emergency Assistance Team

These are local volunteers who activate in an emergency and coordinate and communicate via ALERT. This is the grass roots neighbourshood assistance that check on the vulnerable and needy, assess any external help required which is communicated where necessary via ALERT and CWB.

NEAT teams form during emergencies upon activation by ALERT. These teams are informal volunteers at grass roots level. During an emergency, which scale may not be predicted or unknown, these volunteers provide practical hands on assistance to neighbours and a mechanism for relay of any information, needs or messages via ALERT where required.

Disaster Emergency Communications

An Emergency Communications Mission

The rapid growth of the Internet and commercial wireless services in Australia has promoted a sense of invulnerability. Both the average citizen as well as many government and relief agencies have developed their response planning around the assumption that the Internet and cellular infrastructure will always be available.

What if?

Commercial telecommunications common carrier infrastructure is extremely dependent upon a complex, distributed infrastructure including both the power grid and the public switched telephone network. This infrastructure remains vulnerable to significant natural or technological disasters, terrorist attacks or similar events. Recent events in South Australia showed yet again how the Internet, telephones and mobile networks are all dependent upon electricity, have limited back up power and become overloaded.

The Amateur Radio Service

Amateur Radio has been the traditional answer to significant telecommunications disruptions. However, no single organization has effectively articulated a vision for developing a systematic, professional approach capable of supporting basic messaging between widely dispersed disaster operations. Communicators Without Borders is designed to accomplish this goal. Built on a solid foundation of traditional methods, CWB adds a solid modernization program utilizing robust digital technology and software capable of automatically forwarding message traffic via the survivable High Frequency radio spectrum integrated with reliable bottom-line robust CW Networks.

Professional Standards

Communicators Without Borders supports the development of a base-line of consistent, professional standards. The goal is to create a foundation, which facilitates the exchange of message traffic and information in a systematic, standardized fashion. In keeping with our infrastructure approach, CWB is current revising and developing a wide variety of training material and standards, which will be made available to all Amateur Radio Service volunteers.

Emergency Communications Exercises

With the development of CWB, personnel will utilize the lessons learned from exercises to implement broad-scale improvements to a national messaging layer. CWB plans to conduct periodic disaster communications exercises, which will be conducted both internally and, when practical, with our served agency partners.

Inclusive

CWB is a nonprofit public service organisation. Participation is open to any licensed radio amateur with an interest in maintaining systematic and professional operating standards. At the local and state level, CWB infrastructure is also open to all local emergency communications organizations affiliated with emergency management or relief organizations.

There is room for a wide variety of operating interests in CWB. Our volunteers utilize a variety of methods to achieve highly reliable connectivity under any circumstances. Modes utilized include:

  • Common denominator CW (radiotelegraph) and voice (radiotelegraph) networks to maximize "last mile" connectivity.
  • VHF and UHF local networks utilizing voice and data methods to maximize interface with local emergency communications operations.
  • Infrastructure operations to convey record message traffic across Australia (and to selected overseas locations) using automated high frequency digital networks.
  • Point-to-point circuits using survivable high-speed radiotelegraph circuits to ensure basic connectivity under worst-case conditions.

Continuous Operation

Communicators Without Borders operates 365 days per year. Our automated Digital Traffic Network (DTN) operates 24-hours per day and is therefore always available to spring into action in the event of a major disaster.

Our "manual mode" Inter-State Traffic Network operates on a limited, daily schedule during routine periods. However, this cycle of operation can be expanded to 24-hour operation in time of emergency.

The origination of routine "radiogram" type messages of a personal or administrative nature are encouraged during routine periods. These messages load the system and provide the necessary training and testing to ensure operational readiness.

National Response Plan

Communicators Without Borders intends to develop a "National Response Plan" designed to ensure that our communications assets can quickly and reliably activate in a systematic and efficient manner to support large-scale disasters. This plan minimizes frequency conflicts, eliminates the duplication of resources, and speeds the flow of emergency, priority or welfare precedence message traffic to its designation.

Situational Awareness

Communicators Without Borders intends to develop a program for ensuring that situational awareness data can be collected in time of emergencies such as hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist attacks or major infrastructure failures. Our systematic methods ensure that SITREPs, weather data, and other information is collected in a consistent and professional manner.

Why CW?

  • CW provides a professional grade of service on a par with commercial and military radio networks. Message traffic is routed and cleared quickly. Unnecessary communications is eliminated.
  • CW is fast and efficient. CW will typically handle between three and four times more messages than a voice or packet radio network during a typical operation. This fact is acknowledged in the IARU Emergency Communications Manual (see EMCOMMS)
  • CW is reliable. When propagation anomalies render voice and data networks unreliable, CW often continues to function with little or no difficulty.
  • The use of radiotelegraphy (CW) permits the use of low-power, portable High Frequency radios without the need for cumbersome generators. Mobile HF radio installations are heard reliably when CW is used. When infrastructure is damaged by disaster, CW provides the most reliable messaging service.
  • Getting started on Traffic Nets is easier than one might expect. The extra effort required to learn the net procedures yields real dividends in the form of access to an efficient, reliable, and professional net.

Why Pactor?

CWB also has a number of stations operational on Pactor for high speed data communications over HF. We choose Pactor as it is the most robust and efficient data mode for transfer of text, files, images and more over short waves. Our Pactor hubs and MBOs are operated by experienced CW traffic handlers who also act as gateways to and from CW stations and CW traffic nets.

Join Communicators Without Borders!

Why not partner with us to ensure your community is genuinely prepared to provide meaningful, professional EMCOMM service. Routine participation in our networks and adherence to the methods and practices promulgated in our professional training programs ensure that one is truly prepared to provide emergency communications services. We are the ideal solution for individual emergency preparedness.

Contact us for more information.

On-Air Training

Join in the training, see CWB-training for details

CWB Monitoring During Events

The go-to frequency in CW mode is 7050.0kHz. Annnouncements will be made there. CWB members will activate making use of current frequency matrix.

South Australia 2016 Power Failure

On 28 September 2016 electricity went off in the entire state of South Australia within minutes of severe weather hitting the state. As a consequency also much of the communications infrastructure proceeded to fail, including mobile phone networks, internet access and even land lines. However, CWB operators were still on the air. See media quote below.

Media Quote

"During the SA power outage, I was able to keep communications with a car battery and wire antenna from my house that was otherwise in darkness and without any phones working, using Morse Code, to Queensland, WA and Japan. We at Communicators Without Borders were already training and are able to pass messages efficiently even when there is no electrical mains supply, no generators, no satellite phones, no mobile networks, no internet and no land lines working.

We aim to be a fall back network that can still pass messages over very long distances using low battery power without any reliance upon the existing infrastructure, and at a speed much faster than text messaging. We have official message forms that are inter compatible to other services worldwide.

We can also use voice and data, not only Morse Code, but Morse Code still forms the essential backbone that doesn't fail and can even, if need be, use a tiny 2 inch square radio and a small 9V battery to reach much of Australia."

Videos

CWB OPERATIONS

For those involved in CWB Operations please see documentation at CWBops

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