I just gave a presentation on the Reverse Beacon Network to my local ham radio club. During Q&A, a member of our club (Rick Oliver, W3KDR) had a suggestion that I wanted to share with the group. It might be a bit controversial, but I think the idea has some merit.
Rick suggested that the SOTA software that monitors the RBN for SOTA alerts might also monitor for SOS calls. In the event that all criteria are met, the system would take action on an SOS. Here is an example of the criteria:
- The software would have to hear an SOS
- The station would have to had previously listed an Alert (as with any upcoming activation, so the system knows it’s a SOTA station).
- The SOTA station would have had to previously register with the system a) that it wants SOTA to take action upon hearing an SOS and b) providing contact information for whom to text upon receiving an SOS
The immediate problem with the system is the potential for false reports and pirates. That’s why the RBNGate/SOTA system might not call 911, but would instead send a text message to 2-3 emergency contact people that an SOS has been received.
This solution would somewhat parallel the work of a personal locator beacon. I’ve carried a PLB for years and have never had to use it. It’s an 8-ounce insurance policy. I’m only able to get reliable cell service on 1/3 to 1/2 of my activations, so a PLB is a nice thing to have.
Again, I fully understand the idea of using RBNGate for SOS calls will be somewhat controversial, but I wanted to share the idea with the group.