Haiti asks public safety to donate decommissioned radios
LAS VEGAS — Haiti Engineering, a nonprofit architecture and engineering design group, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials last week launched Radios for Haiti at the International Wireless Communications Expo. The radio-system donation program is asking for radios that soon will become obsolete in the U.S. because of the Federal Communication Commission’s narrowbanding mandate.
Specifically, the project’s goal is to outfit 10,000 police in Haiti with radios, and have the nonprofit’s engineers install an emergency communications system in the nation’s 50 cities, including a early warning system for hurricanes, said Herby Lissade, Haiti Engineering’s president.
“Since we are going through this process of de-commissioning low-band radios in the U.S. — which will just end up in a dump even though they are still operational — we’d like those radios to be given to the public-safety community in Haiti, who can still use them,” Lissade said.
The nonprofit hopes to engage vendors to act as a collection sites to gather operable radios that are good condition, consolidate the donations, and then ship them to Haiti at no cost. The group’s engineers then will reprogram radios for public-safety officials in the country, said Ferdinand Milanes, a subject-matter expert who works on the project.
However, because of the earthquake in January 2010, there are barriers to overcome — including rebuilding the nation’s radio communications infrastructure to support public-safety communications.
“The infrastructure was total decimated, so obviously we need towers to rebuild communication sites,” Milanes said. “We are hoping to partner with some of the companies already there working on rebuilding it.”
Milanes said that engineers currently are lobbying for the country to install a VHF infrastructure that operates in the 150-450 MHz frequency range.
“It has good propagation characteristics and covers a lot of areas for a minimal infrastructure deployment,” he said.
Milanes added that the donated equipment will be dedicated to public safety — not commercial — users. As a result, he hopes U.S. companies and public-safety agencies will donate their radios to support their counterparts in Haiti.
“We hope public safety in the U.S. will donate their older equipment that they soon won’t be able to be used in this country,” he said.