[aprssig] APRS Common BULLETIN BOARD awareness

Robert Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Fri Jan 11 13:30:23 EST 2008

> APRS is billed as a situational awareness service, 
> yet... largely barren of situational awareness info...

The original APRS concept for displaying this collection of
situational information was the MAP display -and- the COMMON

My previous message addressed the problem as a great
underutilization of OBJECTS to convey the situation.  This
message will address the lack of implementaiton in all follow-on

Unfortunately, I don't think a single APRS clone implemented the
COMMON Bulletin board.  Just like a MAP display was supposed to
keep everyone informed of the POSITIONS of everything (and lots
of objects), the BULLETIN BOARD was supposed to act like a BIG
DISPLAY board that EVERYONE could see and they ALL SAW THE SAME
THING.  Think of a big board in the EOC, but now everyone could
see the SAME board via APRS everywhere.  BUT IT WAS THE SAME

The original APRS BULLETIN board only had 40 lines.  Think of
the public boards in Train stations or Airports.   Anyone could
post to the board, could edit their lines or could kill their
lines.  The board was always sorted on the display.  This way,
the most important information was always on the display (the
same to everyone) and since each source could edit his lines one
line at a time, this drastically reduced channel load.  Only a
changed line had to be retransmitted. 

If the top 4 lines on the COMMON display board was maintiaing a
list of capabilities at each shelter, then to change the second
line of that display, an update required only ONE PACKET to
retransmit THAT line!  The update was sorted and INSERTED where
the old line was!

The limitation of 40 lines was arbitrary but was INTENTIONAL to
keep the board uncluttered and to make sure that EVERYONE was
always seeing the same thing!  If new information came in that
made the board go over 40 lines,
then the oldest information was overwritten.  But more often,
the originator of an old post that was no longer valid, could
simply OVERWRITE his old lines on the board with new information
on the board at the same place.  Again, ONLY THE 40 most
important lines that were CURRENT would ever be on anyone's
display.  If you wanted to see a chronology of all bulletins,
updates, changes etc, then you could look at the message log.

Problem is, none of the follow-on APRS clones implemented the
COMMON bulletin board.  They all just show bulletins as items in
a sequential LOG.  Thus, no one sees the same thing.  There is
nothing maintaining the currency of the information, there is no
system for focusing on what is imporant and what is old, and
there is no way of editing or updating information without
sending the entire text and context over again plus retries.
This is a total failure of these clones to understand the need
for COMMON information diplays of situatinal information!

The few clones that even considered the COMMON bulletin board
display rejected it as being too limited at 40 lines.  They
could provide a log display of hundreds or thousands of lines of
bulletins...  Well DUH, that is the worst way to present TIMELY,
RELEVANT, IMPORTANT information.  Humans cannot focus on huge
lists of data, they need FOCAL points.  This single COMMON
BULLETIN/ANNOUNCEMNT display was supposed to filter out all the
old, changed, and updated information and only display to
everyone the MOST IMPORTANT and CURRENT 40 lines of info, that
EVERYONE SAW everywhere.

In APRSdos, all one had to do was look at the BULLETIN BOARD and
see what has been posted.  This one screen gave him the full
present, real-time situation (that everyone else was also
seeing).  With the all the missguided focus on the maps and just
vehicle tracking of so many follow-on clones, this concept of a
FIXED single community bulletin  board display presenting the
full relevant tactical situation has been completely lost to
almost all  users.

This is another reason why the focus on APRS as a vehicle
tracking system has caused people to no longer see APRS for its
intended purpose of situational awareness.

Even if someone added the 40 line common Bulletin Board to a
Uiview add-on, it is of really no value unless EVERYONE in APRS
is seeing the same thing,  Not just the 5% that add all the
needed plug ins...

An entire page in the APRS SPEC (p78) was dedicated to
presenting this concept of DISPLAY and IMPLEMENTATION of a
COMMON bulletin board display, yet it was easier to just display
bulletins as they came in, and keep them in a sequencial log,
than to present them as intended.  Bummer for APRS...

Don't get me started on what else has been glossed over in the
rush to put ICONS on maps.  APRS was a lot  more....


More information about the aprssig mailing list