Neighbourhood Radio Watch

The Neighbourhood Radio Watch (NRW) was started in 2019 by the El Dorado County Amateur Radio Club. The idea for the NRW came after the 2018 Paradise campfire, in which many people died and several were stranded. The NRW is a group of people who live in the same area and form a network to reach each other by radio. The solution is mainly used in remote areas where there is a risk of natural disasters. Through their training, participants can use their radios in crisis situations to pass on official warnings, information about developments and their situation, even when power and telephone networks are down.

The aims of the NRW are to maintain communication in times of crisis, to train and maintain their radio skills, to make their community safer and more resilient through training and education, and by raising awareness of the resources available. The training not only teaches members how to use the radio before they might need it in a crisis but also gets them to know each other so they can look out for each other.

And a guide on how to use amateur radio :



There are several NRWs in the USA, but similar associations with different names (amateur radio, ham radio, community radio…) also exist in other countries. There are Amateur Radio associations in more than 160 countries around the world, and they are often used for emergency communications and crisis situations. Often they are included in the emergency communications plan by the authorities. But even when not officially mandated, there are many examples of how amateur radio operators have used their knowledge and equipment to help in crises (e.g. during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or the floods in Kerala, India in 2018).


The NRW was inspired by the 2018 Paradise campfire, which resulted in numerous fatalities and stranded individuals. Radio amateurs can provide an information network and can supplement or replace official warning or communication systems in the event of failure. There are often groups of radio amateurs who practise together and exchange information. This means they already have personal contact and information about each other, which helps them to take better care of each other in a crisis than the authorities with less personal contact and information.

Amateur radio operators can be particularly helpful when the normal communications network fails or in areas where there is no network connection, as their technology is robust, has a long range and can be set up quickly in new terrain. Such a solution requires equipment, the network and knowledge of how to handle radio traffic. Rights and frequencies should be agreed with the affected communities and emergency services so as not to disrupt their work or cause confusion.


Copyright ENGAGE Project 2021