Radio amateurs contribute their community and the world at large in several ways.
Following the birth of radio communication at the start of the 20th century, radio amateurs were at the leading edge of technological developments for many decades. Many of today’s radio communications technologies were first developed by radio amateurs. Even today, when radio communication is a more mature technology, radio amateurs still push the frontiers of the science, both in terms of its hardware and software elements and also in the field of radio propagation research.
An interest in amateur radio has allowed thousands of people to follow rewarding careers in the high technology sector. Amateur radio contributes to the national skill base and thereby to the economic wellbeing of the country.
Radio Amateurs also have a long tradition of helping their communities recover in times of emergency or disaster. They do this by providing strong, decentralised systems that provide the basic network needed to bring up the services now seen as essential by the public. They can also provide interoperability links between users of different radio systems who may not normally work together like Voluntary Agencies.
Amateur radio is supported in this by recommendations from the ITU encouraging the Amateur Service and the administrations in each country to develop and support Radio Amateurs in providing this service. In turn, the IARU encourages sharing of information between Emergency Communications Groups and also dedicates areas in the spectrum where emergency traffic should be passed.
Every country is different, some may experience natural disasters or emergencies very frequently while others may appear quite ‘safe’. Risks do change though, and to keep all groups trained they may either have training exercises in association with their local emergency services, or if their local regulations allow they may provide additional communications for Public Service events such as long distance runs, walks or triathlons.
For more information on the emergency communications work of radio amateurs see the news items at the foot of the Emergency Communications page