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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 12-08-2017, 11:16 AM
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Thanks again for your replies.

I don't know how to go about finding someone with experience with a situation this extreme, with hundreds of thousands of people packed together about as densely as can be, separated by massive buildings packed together about as densely as can be...

I'd welcome any thoughts on how to get closer to someone with this kind of experience.

We know for sure that last year's solution was a failure, and we know that cellphone coverage (voice and data) was disrupted in the area at the time. Without something concrete to justify it, I think it would be unwise to depend on any system that relies on the cellphone network.

Anyone disagree?

It's an interesting idea to contact a local club, but would this imply we'd need a licensed ham operator standing next to each of our several dozen team members?

I think the only remaining option would be VHF/UHF portables + repeater(s)...agree?
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  #22 (permalink)  
Old 12-08-2017, 11:19 AM
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Thank you so much for your insightful post, mmckenna.

Soon another post of my will appear asking many of the questions you just answered. Thanks again!
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  #23 (permalink)  
Old 12-08-2017, 11:21 AM
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Radio shop with an SMR system that covers the area. Get a few radios before hand and test in the area the event will take place.
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  #24 (permalink)  
Old 12-08-2017, 3:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by extan View Post
Thanks again for your replies.

I don't know how to go about finding someone with experience with a situation this extreme, with hundreds of thousands of people packed together about as densely as can be, separated by massive buildings packed together about as densely as can be...
That sort of environment won't be an issue for a decent 2 way radio system.

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Originally Posted by extan View Post
I'd welcome any thoughts on how to get closer to someone with this kind of experience.
Phone book or internet search for 2 way radio shop in your area. Talk to several of them, make sure they've had experience with situations like this. You'll need multiple channels/talk groups for what you are doing. Trying to cram 60+ people on one channel in a dynamic environment like that will be disastrous.

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Originally Posted by extan View Post
We know for sure that last year's solution was a failure, and we know that cellphone coverage (voice and data) was disrupted in the area at the time. Without something concrete to justify it, I think it would be unwise to depend on any system that relies on the cellphone network.

Anyone disagree?
Never rely on a cellular telephone for anything other than convenience. It's not a suitable solution for what you are doing, for any large event communications, and not for life safety type voice communications. It's a consumer solution.

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It's an interesting idea to contact a local club, but would this imply we'd need a licensed ham operator standing next to each of our several dozen team members?
While amateur radio operators do show up with a lot of good communications tools in their "toolbox", the limitations on the license requirements would mean there would need to be a radio operator shadowing each team that needed communications. Also, a multi-channel event may not be realistic unless you involved several amateur radio clubs. Even then, you'd be relying on "volunteer communicators", which may or may not mean you'd have someone there when you needed them. Rented 2 way radios is the correct solution.

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I think the only remaining option would be VHF/UHF portables + repeater(s)...agree?
Agree.
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  #25 (permalink)  
Old 12-09-2017, 4:02 PM
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Why "several clubs"? There are a lot of simplex channels. If the route is in a straight line or has one or two turns, simplex can cover each leg if necessary. Sounds like the event should have a central command post. Does every single one of the "several dozen" team members actually need to be on the air? Or just key decision makers? If the event is organized properly, you probably won't need as many radio operators as you are imagining.

And don't let the shop guys in the forum talk you into stuff you don't need or cannot afford. Somebody mentioned an SMR system. That would be trunking. LMR should be sufficient if you choose to go the commercial route. It might be a good idea to research the communications used in other similar events in NYC and see what the organizers and users had to say about it.

The NYC and Boston Marathons cover a much larger area than you have described and hams have provided excellent support for several seasons.
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  #26 (permalink)  
Old 12-09-2017, 4:40 PM
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Try Citywide Disaster Services. I think they are in Brooklyn or Rockaways. I do not know them personally, but they are licensed and they resell Part90 (commercial) radio services and equipment to many customers including some city and government agencies. They'd probably have some referrals for you if they don't deal in that.

Whoever you work with, insist on actually walking (etc) the whole route and checking coverage every block. The canyons of Manhattan can make good coverage almost impossible unless there's a very expensive system backing it up. You may need to consider posting someone at every turn, or every 1/4 mile, etc., to relay messages from people on either side of them.
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  #27 (permalink)  
Old 12-11-2017, 4:26 PM
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Hello extan, we can help and handle this type of event regularly. Please let me know if you'd like to speak.
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  #28 (permalink)  
Old 12-11-2017, 8:31 PM
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And above all don't let an amatuer radio guy who doesn't know the difference between SMR and LMR influence your decision.

Are your communication needs casual or health and safety oriented?

Don't assume the NYC half marathon is run only by hams.

Look up WQVU251 and find the supporting letter for justification.
ULS Application - Industrial/Business Pool, Trunked - 0006795208 - BEARCOM OPERATING - Administration
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Old 12-11-2017, 9:08 PM
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This is all very fine, but in the end it comes down to training of the operators and control. Don't know your system works in the US but here and in the UK we have an emergency network within the amateur radio clubs and the larger clubs have communications centres in large vans and also portable repeaters which can be linked. You can't have anybody just pressing his PTT and start gabbling - the whole thing has to be under the supervision of a net controller and may even two on different frequencies in separate sectors. Your event controller will probably be invited to be in the van so that he know what's going on as it happens and be able to pass on messages to the required section. As far as the amateur clubs are concerned it's just another training excercise - they've done it many time before and they'll do many times again - a suitable donation will be gratefully received and I'm sure you will be happy with the result
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  #30 (permalink)  
Old 12-12-2017, 3:06 AM
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I would contact DC Rentals they do the NY City marathon Communications so have experience and systems in place in your area.

www.dcrentals.net
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  #31 (permalink)  
Old 12-12-2017, 9:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedway_navigator View Post
And above all don't let an amatuer radio guy who doesn't know the difference between SMR and LMR influence your decision.
SMR - Specialized Mobile Radio. Descriptor for trunked radio systems.

LMR - Land Mobile Radio. Descriptor for all non-aviation, non-marine, etc. radio services, of which SMR (and ESMR - Enhanced Specialized Mobile Radio) is a subset.

BTW, it's "amateur".
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  #32 (permalink)  
Old 12-13-2017, 12:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveNF2G View Post
SMR - Specialized Mobile Radio. Descriptor for trunked radio systems.

LMR - Land Mobile Radio. Descriptor for all non-aviation, non-marine, etc. radio services, of which SMR (and ESMR - Enhanced Specialized Mobile Radio) is a subset.

BTW, it's "amateur".
Right and SMRs/radio shops often have rental fleet just for this time of thing, short term events. Very common for event use and works great. No reason not to check into it.
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  #33 (permalink)  
Old 12-16-2017, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by RRSINC View Post
I would contact DC Rentals they do the NY City marathon Communications so have experience and systems in place in your area.

www.dcrentals.net
There are actually a number of radio communications vendors "for the NYC Marathon" as there are several production elements occurring simultaneously: The race itself (NY Road Runners); broadcast operations (ABC with IMG Media); TCS marketing; as well as other smaller activities. Each entity uses a different vendor due to capability, existing relationship and of course price.

Two vendors are local to the NY metro area, while a few others are out of town providers. And of course the Amateur operators, several from out of the area, are there in force to assist NYRR race operations, and have done so for several decades now.
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  #34 (permalink)  
Old 12-16-2017, 4:29 PM
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Thanks again for all the extremely valuable feedback!

One point maybe worth emphasizing is that while marathons may deal with similarly-sized crowds, they are spread out of much greater distance. I think the challenges they face are quite different than ours. Also, as I think mmkenna mentioned, creating another dependency with shadow radio operators adds complexity to what we really want to simplify as much as possible.
I'm inclined to feel the same way about mixing in simplex communication -- it becomes a more complex system. (except maybe as a backup? see below)

It seems to me, after listening to you all and all things considered, that a repeater-based solution, if it is available, would be the best bet.

It took quite a few calls, most of which bore nothing, but I finally did find a couple places that say they have in-place repeaters (one of this is trunked across 4 in the area, the other located right about at the exact midpoint).

We plan to get a handful of sets to test a week before the test. I note your comment, Rred, about posting relays. Do you mean as a backup, in case the repeater goes down? Unfortunately it's not possible for us to set up a test involving hundreds of thousands of of people packed together as far as the eye can see :-/
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Old 12-19-2017, 4:40 AM
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Glad you found your solution. I was going to recommend a car mobile repeater with basic analog UHF portable radios. We had a march a couple years back extending from north shore Staten Island to bay ridge Brooklyn. About a 2-3 mile wide area we needed to cover. A vehicle with a mobile repeater parked near bridge covered it nicely. The radio shop gave us the radios with the license to use their frequency on 464mhz. It worked quite well. Best of luck.
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  #36 (permalink)  
Old 12-19-2017, 11:29 AM
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Extan-
I meant posting people as simple "man in the middle" repeaters. If you have three people, let's say at Mile 1, 3, 5, along a parade route? The odds are that 1 & 5 cannot communicate with each other directly, but the guy at 3 can work them both. So if 1 wants to speak to 5, they call 3 and ask for a relay instead. This is normal practice in many radio networks, where one station or another can't hear someone, but "the man in the middle" can do a relay. There's no special skill required, just needs everyone to know the procedure will be to call the relay person (or ask "Can anyone reach station 5 and relay for me?") and then to wait patiently, because the relay may also need to wait for a break in traffic.

One caveat about car mobiles being used as repeaters: I've used my car, with higher power to fill a "distant" position. That works especially well if you are not on city streets. In NYC? I think it was a good ten years ago that an ARES member working a fifth avenue parade GOT TICKETED BY NYPD for using a "telephone" in his car. The ARRL sent a lawyer to the traffic court hearing and explained that under city, state, and federal law that's a RADIO which is specifically EXEMPTED, but the hearing officer didn't want to read it, and the ticket was upheld. Illegally, but upheld.

These days with all the nervous guys with body armor and heavy arms in Manhattan? I think you might want to co-ordinate with NYPD at the highest level, let them know you WILL have personnel parked along the route (thank you, Mister Bloomberg, is it still possible to park outside a garage?) and try to get a written reply, that can be copied and handed out to all the appropriate people.

Isn't easy being a street cop these days, everyone is much happier when an "unusual activity" can show some paperwork signed by 1PP that says they know all about it.

A word about shadows: A good shadow does not seem training or skill, yes. A shadow is like a corporate "administrative assistant". The boss has no time to type letters and stick them in envelopes, the boss keeps making deals and the assistant (aka secretary(G) deals with the mail. Same way with radio shadows. "I need to speak to someone in Sanitation" (one year, the horses plopped and the marching bands were not going to be happy) and the radio shadow is the person who stands there and waits for the break in traffic, waits for the other party to be found, passes the message, waits for the reply....meanwhile, the person they were shadowing can still deal with other pressing matters.
So a good shadow CAN be a very useful thing. Just like a good admin assistant. Among other things...it can be a challenge to remain with three feet of the person you are shadowing, while 100,000 people are milling by and they're all walking in random directions.(G)
If you have "brass" who need to be constantly reachable, sometimes a compromise is to ask them "Would you like us to assign a radio operator to you? We only have a few available but we can give you one if you want it." Make it a privilege, rather than a burden.
The folks with fewer ego problems, will gladly say "yes".
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  #37 (permalink)  
Old 01-08-2018, 4:50 PM
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extan,
Please let us know how it goes. Many here like to hear the type of system you end up with and what does/does not work well (from a lesson learned perspective). There are many professional LMR people and those that are hobby LMR people who could benefit from the knowledge you gained. Thank you, TT.
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Old 01-08-2018, 8:49 PM
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Perhaps jumping in a bit late. If you can rent a hotel room in an upper floor at midpoint of your route, you can set up a small base station and work the route from that vantage point. You don't necessarily need a repeater if you have someone relay from that location. You will need a window with a view open to the street and an antenna with ground plane in that window. It would help to know what the operational requirements are to suggest further.
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