In Western Colorado our EMCOMM group is experimenting heavily with VarAC and VaraFM. Before I request any of these features I'm curious if other EMCOMM users would find them useful:
(Perhaps activated by VarAC/VaraFM going into 'EMCOMM Mode'):
1). Persistent beaconing. (Perhaps limited to VaraFM users?)
In an emergency lasting more than 24 hours, it's likely that some users will accidentally allow their beacons to lapse. If those users don't beacon, they won't receive notification of waiting Vmails, correct? If our EOC fails to beacon for a few hours, it won't receive notification of potentially a number of important messages.
I'm thinking in terms of keeping a VaraFM channel open as much as possible, like when an EOC master packet station polls remote stations for traffic in a round-robin fashion as opposed to those stations sending traffic to the EOC on their own. Perhaps VarAC's traffic handling is already much more robust?
2) Timed broadcasts (like APRS Objects, but without position information).
'K0DZ-10 Winlink Gateway. VaraFM 145.090'
'W0RRZ VaraFM Digi on Blackridge'
'Please conduct non-emergency VarAC traffic on 145.050'
Useful broadcasts could be sent every hour or so during an emergency without the need for EOC folks having to remember to rebroadcast.
Being able to advertise mountaintop Digis would also be nice for new users. Not everyone who sees a beacon like 'K0DZ via W0RRZ' realizes that W0RRZ is a Digi they can utilize because when they ping it from VarAC instead of their VaraFM modem it doesn't respond.
3) Last Heard CQs and Beacons in local time, or, better, elapsed time.
I've seen where folks have requested this is the past only to be advised essentially 'UTC is there. Do the math'. This is fine for casual use, but not desirable in an emergency where EOC folks may be working through the night for perhaps several days. Tired humans make mistakes. Also, not everyone is familiar with UTC, especially it seems with primarily VHF/UHF users.
Would other find these features useful, or have better suggestions?