Grant: Digital Emergency Communications for Walnut Creek, California

Grant date: October 2021
Amount: $23,200

The California Office of Emergency Services and the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) predict that conventional communications systems will be either inoperable or overloaded in the event of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake. Walnut Creek, California CERT has developed an extensive, amateur radio-based analog (voice) emergency communication infrastructure to partially ameliorate this situation. However, modern technology has made amateur radio digital communications more robust and reliable, with high data rates that permit the transfer of multiple data formats enabling CERT field teams to provide much more immediate and complete situational awareness to city emergency responders.

This grant will allow the Walnut Creek SHAMs Amateur Radio Club to fund the final development and deployment of a VHF-based digital amateur radio infrastructure, including necessary back-up emergency power, for the City of Walnut Creek’s CERT teams. Deploying the system will include training on the digital system and emergency radio protocols (message precedence, etc.) Because it is a digital system, we expect a younger cohort to become involved in both the construction and operation of the system. The result will be a more prepared, capable, and resilient Walnut Creek CERT response capability.