Indian HAM Radio Operators: An integral element of communication in times of crisis
Aviation Update|April 2021
During the last one year from March 2020 till date, COVID-19 pandemic triggered an unprecedented lockdown of 1.3 billion population in the country, Bengaluru city - the IT hub of India was no exception. The Government of Karnataka set up a ‘COVID-19 war room’ in the Chief Ministers office to create awareness and to mitigate this enormous crisis situation in the state involving civil preparedness organizations under its administration including Ham Radio operators.

Ham radio or amateur radio uses a variety of radio frequencies (RF) from the spectrum for non-commercial exchanges, recreation, and self-training. Operators (called hams) play a vital role during disasters and national emergencies by providing parallel communications in times when the established lines breakdown.

Radio Amateurs all over the world are well known for their commitment to humanitarian service in crisis situations. Though there were no major communication disruptions reported, Hams in India have been voluntarily involved for their services to support and compliment the work of various Government agencies. Indian Institute of Hams, VU2IIH located in Bengaluru under the leadership of Dr.S.Sathyapal, VU2FI made noteworthy contributions to manage the crisis situation putting with over 260 Hams across the city to ensure seamless flow of information through their radio channels. The priorities of the COVID-19 war room include:

• Keeping vigil on those infected and ensuring that it does not spread.

• Collecting information on all arriving from abroad and keeping track of them.

• Calling every day and keeping track of those who are on home quarantine for 14 days.

• Using the format provided by WHO, the war room will be mapping the regions affected, measures taken and monitor the state of implementation.

• Collecting data on areas affected, families and people residing in them and so on

A 24/7 Command and Control Centre to monitor and keep vigil on the various activities connected to Covid-19 pandemic.

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