The Amateur Radio community has developed a lot of very powerful digital communications software. The NBEMS software suite and Winlink radio email are very useful for emcomm. Government emergency communications organizations such as SHARES are also using these modes.
All emergency communicators should be developing NBEMS digital messaging capability using fldigi, flmsg, and flamp. The ARES Standardized Training Plan Task Book lists VHF digital competency as a Level 2 requirement and HF digital competency as a Level 3 requirement. The AUXCCOMM Position Task Book also lists digital proficiency as a required competency.
It is easier to get started with NBEMS than you might think! All that is required is a computer with a microphone and speakers and your existing radio(s). You do not need a hardwired interface although it is extremely helpful, especially on HF where (with the exception of the 60-meter band) you can not 'talk and text' on the same frequency. See www.arrl.org/nbems for an overview. Detailed information and software downloads are available at www.w1hkj.com.
Introductory NBEMS digital communications workshops have been presented Section Emergency Coordinator KC2WI. These workshops covered the installation of fldigi and flmsg software, and basic operation using acoustic coupling. If your group is interested in a workshop, . Workshop content can be presented as a webinar.
The NNY HF Fldigi Net operates on the 2nd Monday of every month at 20:00 local time on the 80 meter band at approximately 3.583 MHz (+/- QRM) dial frequency USB. The net will utilize Fldigi with the THOR22 mode at check-in. All licensed stations are urged to check in by sending your call sign and any statement about traffic or announcements. NCS will acknowledge stations after checking in. Netlogger and its AIM function will also be used to keep a log of participants and help with Fldigi difficulties.
The Saint Lawrence County Digital Net operates on the 2nd Tuesday of every month at 18:00 local time on the KA2JXI repeater located near Russell, NY. The repeater has an output frequency of 146.925MHz, with a negative offset and PL tone of 151.4 Hz. Like the HF net above, this is an all-digital net utilizing Fldigi with the MT63-2KL mode and will follow the same policies and procedures (directed net, Netlogger, and AIM for Fldigi difficulties).
The NY-NBEMS Training Net is held Saturdays at 8 AM. Dial frequency 3583 KHz USB, signal centered at 1500Hz ( signal center frequency 3584.5 KHz). Initial mode THOR22. Bulletins MFSK32. (info as of 10/30/22) Make sure your RXID is on. All NNY ARES members are strongly encouraged to participate in this net! Note: groups.io still lists 3584 dial.
There are several HF regional digital nets:
All HF digital is on upper sideband and centered at 1500 Hz in the audio passband..
Winlink is a system for sending email via radio. It is becoming a major factor in amateur radio emcomm. It can be used on VHF and HF. Winlink was used very successfully during the 2022 NNY SET. All NNY ARES operators should be working towards Winlink capability if you don't already have it. For more information see https://winlink.org/
Packet Radio utilizes the AX.25 protocol to send digital data over radio channels. The data stream is broken up into packets. Each packet contains source and destination address information and a checksum for error detection. In most packet modes, handshaking occurs whereby the receiving station acknowledges successful receipt of error-free packets and requests retransmission if errors are detected. Here is a good simple Introduction to Packet Radio.
If you are interested in modifying commercial networking equipment for digital emergency communications, check Amateur Radio Emergency Digital Network (AREDN) which is essentially the successor to Broadband-Hamnet.
For more information, please contact your county ARES Emergency Coordinator or Section Emergency Coordinator .