A while back I got a ham-radio license (WS6Z). Why you might ask? Because I’m a geek and it’s a geeky thing to do. Are you really surprised?
But more importantly, I do think that much of our communication infrastructure is rather vulnerable to wide-spread outages during disasters. Cell phone networks are designed for a usage capacity of about 10% of their current users. During major events, trust me… more than 10% of the population will want to be on the phone at once. Combine this with the fact that a number of the towers will probably be taken out at the same time after a major earth-event (earthquake, large storm, etc) and you’ll quickly find yourself out of communication ability.
Ham-radio folks lie outside this realm. They are experts in quickly setting up communication infrastructure when other modes of communication fail. This is why I’ve pledged my support to help out in the event of emergencies whenever possible. I’m an Assistant Emergency Coordinator of the Yolo ARES group. I hope we’re never called upon, because it would mean something bad has happened. But if something bad does happen, I don’t want to sit idly by and just hope. It’s also just plain fun!