[aprssig] Operation "Strong Angel"

Neil Johnson Neil.Johnson at erudicon.com
Wed Feb 1 21:51:37 EST 2006

A couple of months ago I saw a presentation given by an engineer for
major network equipment manufacturer who went with a team down to New
Orleans to set an emergency communications network after Katrina.

They were utilizing satellite and 802.11 based wireless links to provide
voice, data, and video services to emergency management personnel.

Evidently, the company provided much of the equipment and engineering
expertise for free (which made for good PR and made a great
demonstration of how their equipment could be used in such situations).

He showed interesting pictures of access points installed on the top of
"Big Box store" parking lot light poles powered by generators at the
bottom. He also had pictures of banks of the their company's VoIP phones
for use by victims to contact relatives. It was pretty impressive. He
talked about sleeping in his truck most of the time he was there (He was
definitely a type "A" personality).

He did say the team worked with some Amateur Radio Operators as part of
the project, but didn't have a lot of details.

He also talked about a joint Military/Civilian operation now underway
called "Strong Angel" to try to address the serious problems
"discovered" during the response to Katrina.

According to him, Strong Angel concerns all aspects of disaster response
management for everything from natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or
even flu pandemics.

The communications aspect proposed for Strong Angel involved the
development of communications "packages" that consisted of wireless data
and VoIP gear that could be easily deployed and setup easily by
Emergency Management personnel. Some would have satellite up/down link
capability, others would connect via wireless data links to the
satellite systems. Some systems would be vehicle based and some would be
in "crates" that could be carried in vehicles or by hand to remote

I don't really know what organizations are involved in the operation or
who to contact for more information, but thought it might be of interest
to the list.

He was pretty eager to share his information so I assume it was in the
public domain. I work at a university and he suggested that there was
funding available for research that we (the university) should
considering pursuing.


Neil Johnson

Daron J. Wilson wrote:
>>   As someone who lives in an area where cell capacity can't keep up
>>with subscribers, I can just imagine how this works.
>>1)  An emergency occurs
>>2)  The system sends out alerts to thousands of cell phones, all at once.
>>3)  All of the cells become overloaded, and the calls drop.
>>4)  People start hearing about the emergency through other means -
>>radio, TV, the net - and start calling up their loved ones.  Well, they
>>try to.
>>5)  All of the people who really need to be contacted - doctors,
>>firefighters, emergency responders - can't be contacted, because most of
>>the calls are being dropped by the overloaded system.
> It was absolutely fascinating to me that some folks responding to the
> Katrina incident were rendered incommunicado because their Blackberry
> devices didn't work.  Folks...these devices are wonderful for
> communications.  Cell phones, Nextel, paging, wireless PDA's, etc.  However,
> if you do not have control over the system and the ability to support it,
> why in the hell would you be putting it in your plan as your emergency
> notification system?
> Count on systems you can control and maintain, not systems out of your
> control.
> 73
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