Friday, December 5, 2008

Short Messaging and Common Alerting Protocol over HF Spectrum

Amateur radio operators have played a major role during disasters in providing front line communication when all other technologies have seized to operate. MARTS - Malaysia Amateur Radio Transmitter's Society was in full force sharing their experiences and demonstrating the equipment at the ITU Asia-Pacific Centers of Excellence Training Workshop on Effective Use of Telecommunication/ICT in response to disasters: saving lives. The equipment range from vehicle mounted, hand helds, and nomadic units that work over UHF/VHF/HF frequencies. I had the privilege of presenting the Common Alerting Protocol experience in Sri Lanka to the government delegates from Asia and the Pacific Islands; CAP was unheard of by the delegates.

Another novel project on the use of HF spectrum for communicating short messages (or chat messages) was presented by Prof. Dr. Ahmad Zuri bin Sha'ameri at the same ITU event. It was definitely a product that could be engulfed in to the Sahana suite of Messaging gateways or part of the P2P CAP Broker. Both him and I got off to a good start on agreeing to proceed with the experimental idea of porting his solution on to Sahana. An initial document of the concept and action plan was exchanged within a few days of us returning to our desks.

Most of the officials attending the ITU event were officials from their respective telecom regulatory bodies working on disaster management. They were quite excited of the project we have put on the table and promised to educate their ministers of the possibility of piloting the HF spectrum text messaging modules for emergency communication in their countries.

The first step is to develop the software and prove the concept in Malaysia and/or Sri Lanka. This portion of the project is being funded by the Malaysia Communication and Multimedia Commission. Second step is to write a larger proposal to pilot the working solution in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and few of the Pacific Islands - Nauru, Marshal Islands, Vanuatu, etc.