Intro to Network Control

A power pole transformer suddenly explodes! *

…right behind your house in the countryside. By the time you get to the window to watch in horror, the pole with your power, telephone and internet connections topples over in a shower of sparks and crashes right through the roof of your attached garage, igniting a huge grease fire a few paces from where you store automotive solvents and fuels… in mere moments, your quiet summer afternoon is erupting into a raging inferno! It’s pandemonium!

Do you let the fire burn while you drive —several miles— for help?

How can you get help — quickly?

Use your handheld radio!

But waityou haven’t used your radio in years… if you even knew where it was in the closet — or which closet, for that matter… And who’d even be out there to hear you?

That’s where our VERN comes in: those are not the sort of questions you want to be asking when a fire is already burning. So, we’re organizing the Cobb Area community into a Volunteer Emergency Radio Network so we’re ready to communicate when an emergency inevitably happens. In the scenario above, you need a network of neighbors and to know how to direct it… that role is called Network Control or NetCon for short.

Every week, we meet up “on the air” for a Radio Check-In to make sure everyone is OK (and twice weekly during fire season which is coming earlier every year, have you noticed?). We also listen for anyone who isn’t there and practice relaying messages for those in hard-to-reach neighborhoods or with less powerful radios. These Check-Ins are managed by one of our volunteers who serves as Network Control. “NetCon” is the person who provides the ‘air traffic control tower’ function, directing everyone to speak in order so we learn how to listen as much as we practice how to say things efficiently when our turn comes to speak.

Ideally, at least 10% of our community should learn to be Network Control. If there’s an emergency in your backyard, you’ll need to call on others and direct them to rally where the emergency is happening to help you. That’s coordination, which takes practice. Real resilience comes from repetition.

Here’s an easy way to get started: read a script out loud and learn how to direct a directed radio network (be “Network Control”). It’s quite easy to do — just use a script (this one, or an improved version). It’s also important to write down who you hear checking in, so we made that easy too: just print out the last page!

Download the latest PDF file! (below)


PAGE 1 of the PDF features our RS Code matrix, which can help you tell people quickly how well you can hear them (in case there’s anything they can do to improve their signal, like standing a few feet away).

PAGE 2 starts the VERN Network Control Script (the specific version number is in the footer), adapted for our current CAVERN network’s groups. CryptoRights is working with the Cobb Communications Committee to improve this NetCon Script through trial and error (which is why we need you to try reading it) and we will introduce any improvements into the next NetCon script. Meanwhile, folks can become familiar with how we conduct the weekly Check-Ins by just listening in. Everyone is encouraged to try being “NetCon” at least once or twice.

LAST is the current 1-page CAVERN Roll Call Sheet (RCS). The RCS is for anyone who wants to help us gather data on who can hear who (local radio propagation mapping) during each weekly Check-In. It’s easy to check a few boxes while you’re listening and it will help us get grants to build a radio mesh network that can turn all of this into a smartphone app that even little kids can use to save lives. Please help out!

* Yeah… that never happens… but still, we appreciate any constructive feedback you might email to: NetCon [at]