Resilient operations are often supported by plans with layers of systems to get the job done: Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency (PACE). Should the primary system be lost, fail, or overload, the organization can start using Alternate, then if needed Contingency, then if needed fall back to Emergency.


Today's telecommunication systems are a marvel. The Internet and Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) allow us to share text, audio, images, video, and other data almost instantly with almost anyone in the world. Not only have entire processes reorganized to use these capabilities, but entire industries have emerged based on this technology. Even so, they fail and overload from time to time; in Ohio, that often comes as a result of severe weather.


Agencies and organizations may activate their alternate plans and even auxiliary communications (AUXCOMM) resources, but generally go on with business-close-to-usual. Redundant Internet service providers, cell-on-wheels, and satellite services may not give the same speed or the same capacity, but the functions are generally there, at least until they too suffer failure or overload.


Contingency plans generally are the point at which operations rely on the services provided by volunteers. These requirements are significant, but typically localized. An affected area may be disconnected from the Internet and PSTN, so channels of communication need to be established to provide voice, text, and data services between the affected area and the facilities providing support for operations in the affected area. These services are typically provided with line-of-sight radio services in the VHF and UHF spectrum. Within the affected area, higher speed resilient mesh networking systems may be established in the SHF spectrum to allow for local area networks to tie computers together to support operations.


There are times when the communications have been compromised to the degree that facilities providing support are too far away, the affected area is too big, or the needed channels need to reach beyond the line of sight and the Emergency layer needs to be brought in. This is where the tools of HF radio, Near-Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS) propagation, and radio relay provide the needed relief.

A System of Resilient Communication Capability

These aren't competing theories of communication or modes of operation. Requirements, tools, and procedures may vary but they're complementary layers that allow for support of operations in different operating conditions. If we in amateur radio mean to be there and ready to provide communication "when all else fails," it's important that we have a single, unified system that incorporates all of these layers. If well practiced we should be able to move easily down and back up the PACE layers as local requirements dictate.

QSP is an "operation" of our own making, a fun and social way to share common interests while at the same time giving us the chance to exercise the contingency and emergency layer services and skills we use in amateur radio.