Monday, September 1, 2008

Linux and Hurricane Gustav: The Interdictor Project, HAM Radios and VoIP

Occasionally I'm given a privileged view into a clever project. Nowadays, technology can be put together very timely to produce something so useful. The end result is that I can listen to a broadcast of a piece of news I run across on HAM radio at my computer with no HAM radio capability.
Recently I was invited to participate in a project. Hurricane Gustav has been terrorizing the Southern coast and a project of information dissemination began. Several people combined HAM radio communications and Internet radio to make freely available information on hurricane Gustav who need it.
The Interdictor Project uses HAM radio to send VoIP data to various stations, and the signal is also converted to Internet radio format so people online may listen. I'd also imagine that received signals that are not sent by HAM radio are also converted to VoIP by the Interdictor station, but I'm also really fuzzy on the details.
Now this project recruits experience HAM radio operators to do the communication. I was asked to troll news sites for news on hurricane Gustav and mention them in an IRC channel when I come across something new. My idea was to add an RSS feed of Google News to one's favorite RSS client. That would allow for very comfortable and very quick notice of news events.
As I understand, when something new or an update is discovered, the HAM radio operators would then broadcast it and one could hear a duplicate on Internet radio. I'm not into HAM radios and so as I listen to the HAM radio communications on the Internet radio channel I peer a little into the HAM radio world.
Mostly there are just reports of wind and rain measurements at the various locations and time. Occasionally there is a call to clarify information, and a routine request to connect to certain monitor nodes if one is not in the hurricane Gustav area. The amazing thing is to see the clever use of technology for a noble task.
The picture is this: using RSS feeds, if I run across something important, I can mention it in a certain IRC channel. Then the HAM radio operators there will report it in their HAM radio channel which isn't analog, but VoIP. Then it's converted to Internet radio format and I can listen with amaroK to the HAM radio communications of the Interdictor effort to disseminate information hurricane Gustav, all with in the comfort of my own home.

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