GENOAK is a neighborhood-to-neighborhood emergency 2-way radio communications network for Oakland, California,
and surrounding areas, utilizing the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS)
Zonehaven Notifications via 2-way Radio
Zonehaven is a software application designed to help first responders manage evacuations during an emergency such as a wildfire or flood. It will also help inform communities of these threats, and when and how to evacuate. Alameda County has purchased Zonehaven and it is now in-use throughout Oakland. For more information, refer to the OCP&R Guide on Zonehaven. Know Your Zone by going to community.zonehaven.com and then entering your street address.
Notifications for which zones are under Shelter-in-Place, Evacuation Warning or Evacuation Order (leave now) will be delivered primarily via AC Alert. Other local emergency notification systems can also provide these notices to the public. Zonehaven notifications may also be delivered via GENOAK, and you can listen for these on any FRS or GMRS radio set to channel 17 (no PL tone/DCS code).
Emergency Radio Communications
In the event of a large-scale emergency such as a major wildfire or earthquake, neighborhood/CERT groups in and around Oakland may need to depend on information and assistance from other nearby neighborhoods. However, cellular, Internet and landline phone communications may be overloaded or disrupted. 2-way radio service though, such as the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), can facilitate effective communications between neighborhood/CERT groups when other means are unavailable.
During and after a disaster a GMRS radio network can enable neighborhood/CERT groups to connect with each other to report on threats and incidents, provide status updates, share resources, mobilize volunteers and coordinate needed assistance. Critical messages can be passed to Oakland’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) via relays. 2-way radio communications will also operate during extended power outages (Public Safety Power Shutoffs).
GENOAK (GMRS Emergency Network – Oakland) is the GMRS radio network service created by the Oakland Firesafe Council’s Oakland Community Preparedness & Response (OCP&R) program. Use of an Oakland-based GMRS repeater is provided to OCP&R by the Northern California GMRS Users Group (NCGUG).
GMRS Emergency Network Repeater
A General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) repeater provides the ability for GMRS “repeater-capable” 2-way radios to communicate over greater distances and around obstacles such as terrain, infrastructure and foliage that may block point-to-point signals (as depicted above). GENOAK uses an Oakland-based GMRS repeater for emergency neighborhood-to-neighborhood radio communications. This GMRS repeater is located above the Caldecott Tunnel in the Oakland Hills and can provide coverage throughout Oakland and adjoining cities north and south.
Be Prepared to Respond!
Natural disasters are not unknown in Oakland. The devastating 1991 Oakland Firestorm sadly resulted in 25 deaths and destroyed over 3,000 homes, and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake caused extensive damage including the collapse of the Cypress structure and tragic loss of 42 lives.
Oakland’s extensive Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) as well as the Hayward Fault, an interconnected 120-mile-long major quake zone under the City, present serious wildfire and earthquake disaster threats. In light of this, the Oakland Firesafe Council created the Oakland Community Preparedness & Response (OCP&R) program to provide awareness, education, materials and support to help increase the overall community preparedness level and to improve disaster response capabilities for all of Oakland. The GENOAK network is one service of the OCP&R program to help local residents communicate to better respond to and recover from an emergency.
The OCP&R program provides information, Guides and videos on how you can prepare yourself, your family and your community for a disaster, such as a wildfire or earthquake. The information provided by OCP&R is intended to cover the most important actions that you can take now to help protect your property and your lives.
– Acknowledgments –
Many thanks to:
The Northern California GMRS Users Group for select use of its Oakland 600 GMRS repeater
Berkeley’s BeCERTAINN program for permission to borrow portions of their content
The San Francisco Radio Club for their generous donation of equipment.