Posts Tagged ‘ham radio’
“Why end this book as of the year 1950? It is because the story of ham radio’s development essentially takes place in the first fifty years of the twentieth century. Having been created, accepted, regulated, and achieved permanent status by 1950, the story after that becomes one primarily of repetition. The one great exception is in the area of technology, and save for minimal descriptions necessary to the story, that has not been our concern.
The World of Ham Radio, 1901-1950: a social history by Richard Bartlett
It is rather interesting that a book published in 2007 ends with the above Epilogue. The author is essentially saying that, for him, the evolution of ham radio ended in the 1950′s and so that is where his book on Amateur Radio will cease to tell the story. There is nothing else to report other than “repetition”. It’s a sort of “Mission Accomplished” and the date in history is 1950.
Look in the index of the book and you will find that the ARRL (American Radio Relay League) has about the most page references of any entry. The ARRL figures prominently in the story of Amateur Radio since its founding at the beginning of the 20th century up until where the author ends the story.
A couple of weeks ago there was a segment on 60 minutes on the newspaper industry. The newspaper industry just like traditional book sellers, travel agents, video rental, and all the rest have been hit by a technological revolution. This technological revolution can be seen either as death through irrelevancy or as harbinger of opportunity – depending on your perspective.
Newspapers are in trouble because they continue to do what they do, and what they always did – print newspapers no matter what the massive changes (opportunities) that were in front of them all along. Traditional newspapers are in trouble because they were in a state of repetition while the whole world changed, and continues to change, around them. Printed newspaper are falling into a state of irrelevancy for an increasing large number of people.
In the case of the The Times-Picayune which was profiled on 60 Minutes the reason the paper gave for not changing was the traditional audience for the paper. The idea being that they would be loyal to their current audience and the preferences this particular audience chooses to consume their news. But, in the end, the current audience and their preferences could not sustain the ongoing full operation of The Times-Picayune.
There is an interesting parallel between the decision of the author of The World of Ham Radio published in 2007 to cut short the history of Ham Radio in 1950 and the newspaper industry. Both the ARRL as a proxy for Amateur Radio and The Times-Picayune as proxy for newspapers in general are caught in decades long cycles of repetition. Both remain loyal to their existing audience. The audience for both is generational.
As for the The Times-Picayune newspaper they were forced into shutting down parts of the enterprise due to financial concerns brought about by change. They were forced into this unplanned event based on financial drivers.
As for the ARRL, it seems to be a waiting game of how they deal technological change which makes Amateur Radio an interesting hobby in the context of our taken-for-granted always-on hyper global connectivity available to anyone with a smart phone and the issue of their membership which shows a clear generational preference.
This is from ARRL CEO David Summer K1ZZ posted on the ARRL website:
Mr. Sumner reported on his research into “state of the art” strategic planning by large membership associations. Perhaps because of the negative impact of the financial upheavals of 2008 and the revolution in electronic publishing, at this time there appears to be no consensus among associations as to the value of strategic planning or the best way for associations to go about it. The ARRL Board last updated the organization’s strategic plan in 2009 and normally would conduct an in-depth review three to five years later. The committee discussed the perceived shortcomings of past strategic planning efforts along with possible improvements. Without taking a formal decision the committee concluded that while strategic planning remains important to the ARRL, planning for a successful Centennial celebration in 2014 is the current priority. A fresh approach to strategic planning should be taken immediately afterward.
In 2014 the ARRL will celebrate its 100th anniversary. One would wonder if the ARRL Centennial celebration – its current organizational priority – is primarily a look back or a look forward. If it’s a look forward then can the ARRL afford a delay in the Strategic Plan that sets its course for the future in the context of its membership which is in a generational bubble and modern taken-for-granted hyper-connectivity global communications technology available to anyone with a smart phone - not just those with an Amateur Radio license.
“at this time there appears to be no consensus among associations as to the value of strategic planning or the best way for associations to go about it“… is that what happened to the newspaper business in general and The Times-Picayune in particular?
700,000 Licensed Amateur Radio Operators… ??
So, at the start of 2012 there are supposedly 700,000 licensed Amateur Radio operators in the United States. Let’s ask some questions… Is this more or less than in previous years? What are the historical trends over the past decade? Over that past few decades? How do certain events affect the number of licensed operators? What about dropping the code requirement in 2007 – what measurable effect did that have? What about other countries – Australia, Germany, Japan, and so on. How large is the population of Amateur Radio operators in those countries and how do those numbers and trends compare with the United States?
If you are a stakeholder with the ARRL then you can ask even more questions… What are the trends in the ARRL sections and ARRL divisions? How well do the ARRL membership numbers track the growth or decline of licensed amateur radio operators in the US? What percent of the amateur radio operator population does the ARRL capture as members? Can you measure the success of the ARRL by comparing the number of members against the number of licensed amateur radio operators in the US?
What other questions can you ask and answer if you had a load of historical amateur radio licensing data and some good statistical analysis?
Tons of Amateur Radio license data at your fingertips
There’s an informative website that provides detailed statistical analysis of Amateur Radio licenses
Some of the ready-made reports are:
- Australian Amateur Statistics (thru 30 June 2010)
- German Amateur Radio Statistics (thru 31 December 2008)
- Japanese Amateur Statistics (thru 31 March 2009)
- Spanish Amateur Statistics (thru 31 December 2008)
- U.K. Amateur Statistics (thru 31 March 2009)
- U.S. Amateur Statistics (thru 16 January 2012)
- U.S. Amateur Radio Licensing Trends
- Average Life Table
- US Totals
For US Amateur Radio, you can drill down into ARRL Divisions and Sections
- Geographical Charts: Aug 1999 → Jun-2011
- ARRL Divisions Map
- ARRL Sections Map
- States Map
So, if you want the skinny on the statistics of Amateur Radio licensing sliced and diced in all sorts of ways plus the capability of doing you own data mining and reporting then the site URL above is for you.
Discovery, Insight, and Decision making – Turning data into information
Having the raw data on licensing along with the statistical analysis might give insight into answering some interesting questions and pose some new questions. It’s all about discovery and turning raw numbers (data) into information that can inform decisions and provide insights.
700,000 Licensed Amateur Radio Operators – What does it really signify?
As of the beginning of 2012 there were 700,000 licensed Amateur Radio operators in the US. An amateur radio license is good for 10 years before expires. If the license is not renewed then your are off the list and are not counted in the 700,000.
But this number of 700,000 may be misleading depending on what you think it signifies. This number does not represent the number of active amateur radio operators – and it’s the active people that matter- not the inactive. Many people may have gotten a license for the Amateur Radio service, gave Amateur Radio a run around the block, and then lost interest after a short period of time.
This loss of interest, the fact that they have no intention to renew the license, and the 10 year longevity of the license means that this 700,000 number, if taken to represent that number of people active in Amateur Radio, would be misleading.
The 700,000 number really does not mean a lot if the majority of them have lost interest. It may be of benefit to some to quote large numbers – 700,000 in this case – to try to make a case for significance. But when it comes to “boots on the ground”, “showing up”, and “making a difference” it’s only the active people that count.
So, if the number is not 700,000 (a best case high-water mark) then what is it?
The ARRL as the only (national) game in town
One clue on how to find the number of active Amateurs in the US might be to look at the membership of the ARRL. The ARRL is the American Radio Relay League. The ARRL is the “only game in town” as a national organization incorporated as a 501 C(3) charity that is dedicated exclusively to the advancement of Amateur Radio.
According to the ARRL’s strategic plan its mission is:
To promote and advance the art, science and enjoyment of Amateur Radio.
And the ARRL has a Big Hairy Audacious Goal:
Amateur Radio will be recognized as a valuable, innovative, technical and public service avocation.
The ARRL, as a national organization, is the public face of Amateur Radio in the United States. This is the value proposition from the 2006 Strategic Plan:
- Develop strategic alliances, coalitions, and relationships with a varied of public, private, and not-for-profit organizations to advance Amateur Radio.
- Maintain personalized relationships with key, government decision- makers and agencies at the national, state and local level.
- Build a strong strategic position and wide recognition as the credible source of Amateur Radio information.
- Develop positions on key issues of interests and importance to members and the Amateur Radio community.
- Become branded for being a powerful advocate and voice for Amateur Radio.
You can read more about the ARRL on their web site: http://arrl.org
So, of the 700,000 licensed Amateur Radio operators can we get a clue as to the number of active licensee’s from additional statistics based on ARRL membership? Since the ARRL is the only (national) game in town then the hypothesis is that active hams gravitate to the ARRL – there is seemingly little other choice in the United States.
ARRL Membership Statistics
The ARRL publishes membership statistics in its Annual Reports. These Annual Reports are available on their web site back to 2002. So, based on the number of licensed operators in the US (from the first web site mentioned above) and the membership of the ARRL (as reported in their Annual Reports) perhaps we can combine the two sets of data and mine some interesting information and ask some new questions.
Here are our current questions
- How many of the 700,000 license amateur radio operators are actually active?
- Does the membership numbers of the ARRL give us an insight into the true number of active amateur radio operators?
Here is the analysis based on the data provided on the web site above and data gleaned from the ARRL Annual Reports.