Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How @WaffleHouse compares to the Automatic Packet Reporting System #ARRL #hamradio @CraigatFEMA @FEMA

If you have heard, there's a "Waffle House Index" at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Craig, KK4INZ said this about the Index, “If you get there and the Waffle House is closed? That’s really bad. That’s where you go to work.” 

However, outside the "Big City" there are not so many Waffle Houses.  There are other "disaster resilient companies" to track.

What about those places where there are no Lowes and Home Depots or they are located outside the disaster zone?

Welcome to the concept of using the Automatic Packet Reporting System to see "how bad is bad" before, during, and after a disaster.  

On a "normal day" with no power outage, tornado, hurricane, ice storm, etc., open a map.  Zoom out and one will see all manner of people and places.  

Add a disaster and the resources begin to fail.  One by one the pretty icons evaporate from the map.

Folks at the Voice Over Internet Protocol Weather Net have been using APRS, among other tools, to get data for the National Hurricane Center in Miami.  

For example, before a land-falling hurricane strikes the island of Bermuda, VOIPWX team members look at APRS to see what is in play.  A few hours after the event, another look would paint a very different story, if the disaster really takes a toll.  Similarly, internet-dependent communications such as Echolink, D-Star, and the Internet Radio Linking Project could provide planners with the "ground truth" they need to see "how big bad is".

Do you use these tools in your disaster response, recovery, mitigation, and planning programs?

1 comment:

KC5FM said...

From the APRS SIG:

“FEMA Technical Office would like to mine APRS data for better field data.
The main thing they want is a better way to SEE big pictures concepts

For a decade, FEMA uses the "Waffle house index" they get from Waffle house
to show in RED, YELLOW, GREEN, NORMAL coloring attributes on 1700 Waffle
houses throughout hurricane zone so they can see instantly, the big picture
of conditions.

See the FEMA Waffle index!

FEMA asked if APRS could do this...

FEMA thought that APRS only had a dozen symbols (They had been watching a
D700 display only), I pointed out that APRS has always had nearly 200
symbols each with up to 8 color attributes (only APRSdos displays the
colors I think)..., but even those 200 were expanded in 2008 or so to
nearly 3000 of which over 135 have been defined but most clients have not
painted them all in yet.

This was done through overlays so that they are all backwards compatible
on older systems as a base symbol with a letter overlay, but they can be
fully painted out to be a whole new symbol as clients wish.


APRSdos had these color attributes on every symbol but this layer was not
implemented by most clients that just use ICONs. I believe some clients
have implemented it, but I have not kept up.

Hessu was working on a common updated data base.... (how's that going?)

I asked the FEMA to tell me their top priority symbols and I would see how
well they mapped to APRS symbols and get myself up to speed on where we are
with symbols..

So, I am open for you APRS gurus to fill me in on any progress on symbols
beyond what I have been tracking on

Important people want to know...

bob, WB4aPR”

Track this satellite (Thanks N2YO)

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