08 July 2022

If The Big One Hits, Be In Syracuse!

Last month the Antique Wireless Museum released a 1951-era industrial movie made by General Electric that highlights how the city of Syracuse, NY used mobile radio for disaster response after a nuclear strike. Conveniently, General Electric's mobile radio division was headquartered in Syracuse, so this is really an early version of an infomercial. But it's a well done infomercial, and actually tells a useful story about how to create what we call today an emergency operations center, or EOC.

I'm surprised at how little has changed in terms of EOC operations between 1951 and today. Today we have fancier communications systems, software, computers, the internet, smartphones, and better looking firefighter helmets 😄, but most of the basic roles and functions we have in an EOC today were there in 1951. From that perspective the movie is quite interesting.

What I particularly liked was the use of  an early 'GIS' (geographical information system) - a map table with push-pins around which all coordinating activity revolved. Today we have fancy computer-based GIS systems, but paper maps and pushpins are still in wide use. It's still a very effective way to maintain situational awareness. 

I was also really struck by the emphasis the movie places on Amateur Radio as an integral part of any emergency communications system, and an integral part of EOC operations. Quite impressive, really.

So have a seat, strap on your way-back goggles, and enjoy EOC operations as they were over 70 years ago!

W8BYH out

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