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Amateur Radio Emergency Service Transitioning to New Online Reporting System
The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) will phase out the traditional ARES report forms later this year in favor of an online system called ARES Connect, a volunteer management, communications, and reporting system. The new system will allow information to be logged by ARES members and managed through the Field Organization. The advent of ARES Connect was among other highlights in “The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) 2017 Annual Report,” released this week.
“ARES Connect is a volunteer management system that covers event signup, reporting, and roster management,” ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, said. “It does not change how ARES operates when serving a partner entity; it is simply a system that will make managing volunteers and events easier.” Beta testing of ARES Connect will begin in March. ARES made changes to its report forms last year to make it easier to process information at ARRL Headquarters and to standardize the format for all forms. ARES Monthly Reports have been posted to the ARRL website, providing regular information on Amateur Radio public service communication activity, the report noted.
According to the 2017 report, ARES membership stands at 31,332, up by nearly 13% from 2016. The number of emergency operations events reported was up by 665 from the previous year, with 1,913 reported in 2017. The top three states in terms of ARES membership in 2017 were California (2,265), Texas (1,930), and Ohio (1,858).
Reported ARES events amounted to 51,673 in 2017 — a 4% increase — accounting for 718,930 volunteer hours at a calculated value of more than $17.3 million.
“There was a noticeable increase in reported activity during August through November,” the ARES 2017 Annual Report said. “During this period there was Amateur Radio response activity for hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria; wildfires in the western states, and the total solar eclipse that occurred on August 21.”
What is ARES Connect?
ARES Connect is a volunteer management system that will allow each ARES group to manage their roster, create and staff events, and track nets and training. Each ARES group and ARRL Section will have a unique page on the platform with appropriate admin control given to the ARES Emergency Coordinator.
ARES members will be able to create a user profile that connects them to their local ARES group. Through their profile they can register for ARES (pending EC approval), sign up for events, log volunteer hours, and log training.
Reporting will be different through ARES Connect. As users log activity, data is created that allows ECs, DECs and SECs to run custom reports. The current ARES report forms will continue to be used through 2018 as the system is being built, but our current plan is to shift all reporting over to ARES Connect.