2010 – Soccer World Cup



During October 2009, HAMNET was approached by the Johannesburg Disaster Management to become part of the communications team preparing for the soccer World Cup as well as the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality that covers the East Rand area. One must remember that Gauteng South has three major Metropolitan Areas namely Johannesburg itself, Ekurhuleni that covers the East Rand From basically Bedford View to Springs in the far east rand and Mogale Metropolitan Area that covers the West Rand.

The Johannesburg communications team comprised people from all walks of life and included at least 3 communications specialists to assist with the establishment of the network to cover events during the SWC.

However, prior to that, during a Disaster Management Forum meeting held in August 2009, we had guest speakers from various organisations elaborating on their involvement, approach to and planning of various scenarios that may occur before and during the SWC.

These were representatives from S.A. Police Services, The Civil Aviation Authority, Health Departments, Emergency Medical Services, Provincial Directors, Traffic authorities and so the list goes on.  No stone leading up to the event was left unturned, inspected, discussed and replaced with a plan of action.

Hamnet’s final involvement began fairly late in the run up to the event – around March 2010, three months before the opening ceremony.  This was due to the Joint Communications Committee in their planning realising that they had to plan for the eventuality of there being a total blackout of all types and forms of communication.

  1. All normal forms of communications are lost and our brief would then be to restore communications by utilizing amateur radio frequencies or any other appropriate frequency with Hamnet members seconded to the emergency services at key points.
  2. A disaster occurs in an area where normal communications is nonexistent and Hamnet would have to set up a radio link between the incident and the controlling authority.

The JCC building did have its own power supply generator should general power fail – and so did all the soccer stadiums around the country!

We were invited to attend meetings within the building allocated as the Joint Communication Centre which in itself immediately presented some problems.  The building was a classic example of a Faraday Cage with result communications from the control desk on the 3rd floor on 2 metres to a repeater on the roof, another 8 floors higher, was impossible.

We then looked at running a cross band set-up by utilizing 70cm from the control room to a repeater on the roof and then out on 2 metres.  This worked well as the JCC was within simplex reach of both the stadia – Ellis Park and the main arena, Soccer City – and many of the other venues due to the height of the antenna!

Our next objective was to obtain a list of all the Fan Fest Parks, Team Locations (Hotels etc.), Training Venues, Township TV facilities, Park and Ride facilities, Bus Routes, Park and Walk facilities, and finally, the Road Closure list on days of games at the two venue’s.

Once this was done, we then drew up a list of all the volunteers in the Gauteng South Region – looking particularly at those with mobiles and 2 m facilities.  The authorities at this point also invited us for a photographic session so we could be issued with EMS (Emergency Management Service) volunteer cards with our speciality embedded in the card.  All the volunteers were briefed on their roles via meetings and on an individual basis prior to the start of the event!

The South African Police Service then required a complete list of all the volunteers including their types and makes of vehicles, registration numbers, name of driver, ID number colour of the vehicle etc.  All this was done within a deadline of completion being one month prior to the opening ceremony.  This was for accreditation purposes.

The Accreditation Routine was extremely strict – and so was security.  Should there be an incident and a volunteer was required to do duty, that person first had to obtain a security clearance or accreditation certificate, attend to his call out and then must return the certificate from the issuing point after the incident is over!

We then ran into a problem regarding the equipment required for the ops room.  Some new equipment including a suitable Flight Case had to be urgently obtained from suppliers locally and from Japan.  We were also donated a good working 2nd hand laptop as this was going to be built into the Flight case for Internet and APRS usage if required.

Although the emergency unit (kit) was ready approximately one week into the month long event, we decided in consultation with the JCC committee that we will remain on stand by and should it be necessary to install the emergency kit into the ops room, this could be accomplished in a very short period of time!  The committee were happy that Hamnet was in place and that all the volunteers were on stand by if required.  We also needed permission to possibly drill holes into the wall on the roof to mount the antenna.

This was ruled out and an alternative arrangement was prepared whereby the antenna was mounted on a footplate that was held down by concrete slabs to prevent the wind blowing down the mast.  Fortunately, to erect this was never required – but it was in place!

This arrangement remained in place for the full duration of the games – locally and in other centres – as all games were displayed on Fan Park TV screens where anything could go wrong.

This takes care of Gauteng South Province.

In all the other cities/venues like Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Rustenburg, Polokwane, Pretoria and Nelspruit, the arrangements for the volunteers was not that elaborate as in Gauteng.  Each town or city had at lest 3 people who were on standby and in communication with their local Disaster Management and SAPS members should they be required tor duty.

We know that Bloemfontein, Cape Town and Durban also had special facilities within their Disaster Management ops rooms for communication to any volunteers in their vehicles as well as being able to communicate directly with the main Hamnet station in Johannesburg via HF, Echolink or Skype through the Internet.

In all, it turned out to be an excellent operation in preparing for something that my or may not happen.  Gauteng South benefitted by way of now having 2 emergency kits available and Cape Town will benefit from taking over one of the rigs for use in their ops room.

Gauteng disaster Management with its ops room in Midrand, were never part of the Gauteng South plan but they were on stand by for the whole period of the cup event.

In total, for our area only, the number of amateur radio operators that took part – Hamnet and non Hamnet volunteers, totalled around 65 people.

We also wish to thank the authorities for allowing us to form part of and be on stand-by during this whole operation and sincerely hope this will benefit closer cooperation between Hamnet and local authorities in the future!

Reporting for Hamnet, this is Francois Botha, ZS6BUU – National Director.

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