When the Harris radio was originally installed, it was programmed for local sounding (i.e., by the radio at State OES) as it lacked certain upgrades. The result took as much as 20 minutes before radio contact was made when the remote unit was dialed. After the ALE upgrades were installed and the system was set with the master sounding FROM Bothell it allowed the system to operate in its best mode, significantly reducing connect time (to 1-2 minutes). The sounding interval (such as every two hours) is entered in the radio at Bothell as the control point for 12 ALE addresses in FEMA regions 9 and 10.
When CommCenter personnel are designated to operate the Harris radio in a non-ALE mode, then a pretrained operator goes to the radio, disables ALE and the remote setup, then selects a channel manually, and operates the radio from that location, either for data or voice. There is a five-step process to select a manual channel for voice. If contact is not made, there is a three-step process to go to another channel. These require specific radio operator training. It should be obvious that the automatic ALE operation (handset and dial 3 digit code) is superior to manual multiple-step radio entries. ALE addresses are preset and are for FEMA stations since the purpose of the unit is to provide emergency radio linkage between FEMA and the State.
In summary, ALE can provide considerable benefits to government:
- In systems that those who are not familiar with such usage may not understand, such as FEMA to State OES facilities.
- When installed with a remote telephone-type handset it can be used by those with no knowledge of radio operations and no need to tune, find the best frequency, etc, which means
- Personnel who use the phone and computer all the time in their work do NOT need to be trained in radio usage, all of which is
- Faster and more efficient than calling an operator in the radio room and asking that person to establish the radio contact and set up a phone patch or going to a radio and manually entering the needed data. Instead, just pick up a handset, dial a number, and talk to the answering party.
- Which amounts to a reliable system ready to use 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without RADIO operator involvement.There are other ALE systems and radios, and other experiences. Of necessity this article is limited to my experiences and observations.