In numerous areas - due to the success of cellular, Internet, telephone and agency trunking systems - it has become difficult for Amateur Radio licensees to show local
A TEST MATRIX is the printout of an area test of point-to-point radio communications. It is conducted, tabulated, and then presented to appropriate authorities.
The purpose is to determine and show the effectiveness of radio communication on certain frequencies (Amateur, Government or Agency) from specific points or locations in the area.
For example, Orange County RACES did a test for 12 physical sites in their area to determine how well the various locations within the County could communicate with the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Amateur Radio frequencies. They used it to show their local Fire Authority how Amateur Radio could communicate from the locations to the Incident Commander during brush fires.
The Orange County test results consisted of a columnar report of 13 columns across the top and a list of frequencies down the left hand column. Below that was other data relative to the specific location such as a parallel comparison of Cellular Service, name of who did the test, area and telephone numbers for a person at the site from which each test was conducted. They used Park locations, listing the Park Ranger by name and phone number and any pay phone at the tested site. Results were listed as good, marginal, not usable, not tested.
In thinking about what they did, it seems that the idea could be used by other units for several purposes. Fortunately the Orange County Fire Authority had recognized the use of Amateur Radio as an alternate means of communications during emergencies and had used RACES during past events.
However, in other areas of the country where such acceptance has not occurred, it may be necessary to include media coverage (of the actual field testing) to gain exposure and get officials interested. This is tricky, but if done in a quiet, effective way with skillful news coverage (newspaper, TV, public radio, etc.) it can work. Media coverage must be carefully done so as to put subtle and seemingly indirect pressure on public officials to recognize and use alternative communications. However, if done incorrectly it can have the harsh result of turning them off.
Consider the needs of YOUR area.
- Flood reports and control?
- Road reports (evacuation of an ADJACENT area; hurricane?)
- Large parades and public events - public control, anti riot?
- Special needs in your area?
- Storms (tornadoes?)
If you've done that test, was a published written summary report handed to appropriate agency officials? If not, do a Test Matrix and present it. The approach to use is this: seek NOT to convince local authorities of YOUR need to use your unit, but show how it can assist them in a real-world way, preferably ongoing rather than as a doomsday response.