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A Note of Approval from Oregon

I have enjoyed the privilege of working with n6kzb in developing the HTML forms adopted by the Oregon Office of Emergency Management for all County EOC to State level communications when phone and internet are down. We had some specific and somewhat unusual requirements so that the new forms would generate a plain text version that exactly duplicated the templates used previously.

The new designs have been enthusiastically received, and will be the centerpiece of a large State-wide Simulated Emergency Test soon. Any other so drastic a change would probably require a long period of extensive training. These HTML Forms, with the built-in "Mouse Hover Hinting" have made training nearly unnecessary.

The other really valuable feature is the ease of keeping everyone on the same level as far as version. Mike and I were able to edit and release new versions, and the auto-update feature ensured that the changes were immediately rolled out to all the operators with the application version updates. The ease of doing manual updates to catch new features, or to repair a folder of templates damaged by inadvertent file editing or deletion is just icing on the cake.

Want to see a little feature that makes life simpler? Look at one of the several versions of "Winlink Check-in " forms. Note the odd line of text at the very bottom of the plaintext Winlink message after the Browser input form is submitted and closed. First it says "For Spreadsheet Use", and then below that is a line with all the relevant data in a single line "comma separated value" or CSV format. If you desire to collate the data during or after a drill or event, you can cut and paste this single line from each check-in form received into a NotePad text document. When all are received, you can import the plaintext CSV data into Excel and have a spreadsheet of who checked in, where, when, and what comms were used to do so. Pretty neat!

This is just a first use of the ability to pull data in from other sources such as Help files, or to collect and export data from a Form. I'm sure there will be many more.

Thomas Noel
KF7RSF

FEMA Region IV Auxiliary Communications Working Group Update

February 24, 2017--The FEMA Region IV RECCWG DEC, AuxComm committee held its most recent working teleconference on February 24th, 2017. The chair of the committee, RECCWG member Steve Waterman, volunteer for County’s EMA, Homeland Security District, State EMA, NCC SHARES, and as Winlink network administrator, plays a role by overseeing the DHS NCC SHARES Winlink Radio Email Hybrid network. His various service roles have given him insight into the needs of the AuxComm community, and this subcommittee is working to enhance the opportunities for the utilization of qualified volunteers by civil authorities who wished to utilize auxiliary communications volunteers. The working group consists of Region IV state Emergency Management communications personnel, Statewide Interoperability Coordinators, and state Liaisons to various AuxComm volunteer organizations. The first few sessions focused on examples of best practices around the Region as county and state members briefed on current successful programs. This last session was scheduled to introduce members to DHS SHAred RESources (SHARES) High Frequency (HF) Radio Program and recent changes. The call was open to members of all ten RECCWGs, and members from each Region participated in the call. Mr. Ross Merlin, Program Manager for DHS SHARES, briefed the members and described the “no cost” opportunities available to civil authorities and their critical infrastructure partners, and how it is specifically suited to agency use of volunteer communicator resources. The NCC SHARES program provides support through the use of exclusive HF Channels for both voice and data opportunities such as the NCC SHARES Winlink hybrid radio email network system. This digital network now supports over 45 gateways, and is expanding continuously in order to handle the volume necessary to make it an effective transport layer for complex messages to and from locations that have no local communications infrastructure available. The network, which normally operates as a radio-to-Internet bridge for standard email, may also operate as “radio-only” Email through a MESH configuration over HF radio, and without the Internet. The next task for the FEMA Region IV AuxComm working group committee will be to further define the elements that comprise a successful AuxComm program and present them in a format that will benefit others. The committee will also discuss appropriate generic wording for a State and county EmComm plan for AuxComm volunteers. Those findings should be forthcoming in the next few months and will be made available to those who express an interest.

Republished with permission from Public Safety and Emergency Communications News Clippings, 6 Vol. 6 Issue: 2 January 31, 2017

Winlink Express HTML Forms Are Going Statewide in Oregon

We received this news from Oregon:

“I am pleased to announce that, through the hard work of Mike Burton and the WDT, the State of Oregon is transitioning to all HTML Template Forms for traffic from County EOCs to the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. The forms will also find frequent use from one served agency to another, and from agencies to the County EOC.

The new forms closely follow the design of plain text templates previously used by the State OEM, but avoids the issues of installation and updating, and are self-hinting to lessen the need for extensive training. The forms are now included as part of the standard forms now distributed as part of Winlink Express.”

Thomas W Noel
KF7RSF

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