Prep Smartz Academy Article

Communication Codes for Smart Preppers

This article explains some methods for effective communication using radios, phones and other devices.

Call Sign

Everyone in your family or group should have a call sign, even children. Call signs should not be reflective of any characteristics or provide any clue as to the identity of the person.  Do not use your real names on any communication device, during an emergency.  This can compromise both the caller and the receiver’s operational security, OPSEC.

Note: Call signs for U.S. Presidents and their families begin with the same letter – see example below.

Example

Name

Call Sign

Ronald Reagan

Rawhide

Nancy Reagan

Rainbow

Maureen Reagan

Rhyme

Michael Reagan

Riddler

This technique should be used regardless of the communication devise, e.g., phone, voice mail, instant messaging or radio.

Response codes can be used to communicate the situation status.  If someone is holding a knife to your throat, you can communicate that you are under duress using response codes without the assailant knowing.

Example

Name

Call Sign

Normal Response

Duress Response

Ronald Reagan

Rawhide

LED

Hominy

Nancy Reagan

Rainbow

Hyperlink

Pot holder

Maureen Reagan

Rhyme

Carrot

Piñata

Michael Reagan

Riddler

Bowling

Ace

Example

Caller

Receiver

Transmission

Rawhide

Rainbow

What is your situation?

Rainbow

Rawhide

Situation is hyperlink, What is yours?

Rawhide

Rainbow

Situation is Hominy

In this transmission, both the caller and receiver have confirmed their identity to each other and provided their circumstances.  Rainbow is normal and Rawhide is under duress.

Encrypt Status

Status can be discretely provided on each member of the family or group without revealing their real names.  Each person can have two codes to describe their circumstance.  This serves as a confirmation the identities of the caller and receiver to each other.  One family has established some phrases to discreetly communicate their situation. 

 

Example 1
Caller: How is your car running?
Receiver: It’s running fine.
No further action required
 
Example 2
Caller: How is your car running?
Receiver: It’s not running right.
Caller: Should you take it to a mechanic?
Responder: No.
No further action required
 
Example 3
Caller: How is your car running?
Receiver: It’s not running right.
Caller: Should you take it to a mechanic?
Receiver: Yes, Probably should
The caller should call law enforcement to go to the receiver’s location

Encrypt Locations

Locations need to be codified during communication transmissions, also. Define code names for each relevant location.  Begin with your three shelters and work location

Contact

Location

Location Code Name

Rawhide

Primary shelter/residence

Rock slide

Rawhide

Primary work

Slippery Elm

Rawhide

Secondary shelter

Shirt pocket

Rawhide

Tertiary shelter

Crayola factory

Rawhide

Rally point Alpha

Bone yard

Rawhide

Rally point Bravo

Ricochet

If you need to provide latitude and longitude coordinates, develop a method of disguising the numbers. A primitive technique is to select a key.  This is a number that will be added by the person who is encoding the latitude.  To encode the latitude, add the key.  The receiver must know the key to decode the latitude.

Example
Key =4
Add the key to a latitude and longitude
33.6534 N   + 4 = 33.6538 N
84.4494 W + 4 = 84.4498 W
 

The receiver (of the encoded numbers) must know the key to decode the phone number

To decode the numbers, the receiver needs to subtract the key from the transmitted number
33.6538 N – 4 = 33.6534 N
84.4498 W – 4 = 84.4494 W

 

Contact

Location

Location Code Name

GPS Coordinates

Rawhide

Primary shelter/residence

Rock slide

33.6534 N   84.4494 W

Rawhide

Primary work

Slippery Elm

33.7490 N   84.3880 W

Rawhide

Secondary shelter

Shirt pocket

33.4926 N   82.0471 W

Rawhide

Tertiary shelter

Crayola factory

33.4487 N   84.4549 W

Rawhide

Rally point Alpha

Bone yard

33.6221 N   84.3691 W

Rawhide

Rally point Bravo

Ricochet

33.5973 N   84.4399 W

The encrypted coordinates are listed below. 

Contact

Location

Location Code Name

GPS Coordinates (encrypted)

Rawhide

Primary shelter/residence

Rock slide

33.6534 N   84.4498 W

Rawhide

Primary work

Slippery Elm

33.7490 N   84.3884 W

Rawhide

Secondary shelter

Shirt pocket

33.4926 N   82.0475 W

Rawhide

Tertiary shelter

Crayola factory

33.4487 N   84.4553 W

Rawhide

Rally point Alpha

Bone yard

33.6221 N   84.3695 W

Rawhide

Rally point Bravo

Ricochet

33.5973 N   84.4403 W

Encrypting location coordinates, it may be beneficial to add the key to the first (leftmost) digit. Adding the key to the end would place the coordinates close to actual location.  Adding the key to the first digit would make it a location farther away from the actual location.

Example
Adding the key, in this case 4, to the rightmost digit
33.6534 N   84.4494 W                                        3724 Main Street, College Park, Georgia
33.6534 N   84.4498 W (encrypted)                     3727 Main Street, Atlanta, Georgia
These two coordinates are within 120 feet of each other
Adding the key, in this case 4, to the leftmost digit
33.6534 N   84.4494 W                                        3724 Main Street, College Park, Georgia
37.6534 N   84.4494 W (encrypted)                     Garrard County, Kentucky
These two coordinates are within 365 miles of each other

The above examples are simple and may not be appropriate for all number encoding conditions.  To increase the level of encryption, you can use a calculation for the key. Using a calculation for the key would make the encryption more complicated and more difficult to decipher.  

Example
Key – 4
33.6534 N has six digits
Add the key to the number of digits
33.6534 N + (6 +4) = 33.6544 N
In this approach the receiver will need to know the key and the calculation to decipher the location.

Prowords

In an effort to reduce the transmission duration radio operators use prowords to convey a message.  They are language short-cuts used in radio transmissions. 

They can also be used to obscure the meaning of the transmission to eavesdropper   Prowords can be used to communicate a meaning that is only known to certain other radio operators. Emergency responders can use prowords to communicate to other emergency responders.  If an emergency responder is at an accident site and needs to report the condition of the victims, they may use a proword to inform their incident commander of a deceased victim.

Locations are good candidates for prowords.  There are situations when you do not want to transmit a location over a communication device.  That information could be used by someone with malicious intent.

Standard Prowords

Some prowords are defined for each specific situation and some have been standardized.  Below is a sample of common standard prowords.

 

Proword

Description

Affirmative

Yes

Copy

The received is indicating that they have received and understanding the sender’s transmission. Do not say “Copy that.”  Just say “Copy.”

How copy

What is the quality of the sender’s transmission?

I say again

The sender is going to repeat the previous transmission.  They don’t say, “I repeat.”  Repeat in the military means fire (artillery) again.

Out

The initiator of the transmission is indicating the end of the conversation.

Over

When a sender completes a transmission, they say “Over” to indicate that are finished and listening for a response.  Never say “Over and Out.”  The sender either says “Over” or they say “Out” – but not both (together).

Roger

The received is indicating that they have received and understanding the sender’s transmission.  Do not say “Roger that.”  Just say “Roger.”

RTB

Returning to base or returned to base

Say again

The receiver is requesting the sender to repeat their most recent transmission.  Avoid saying “repeat” in a transmission.  That is a proword for the Army infantry.  It mean to fire artillery again.

If you need to say something again, say, “I say again…”  Do not say “I repeat…”

Wilco

The receiver is indicating that they have received, understand and will comply with the sender’s instructions.  This is not used with Roger.  Never say, “Roger” and “Wilco” together

 Situationally-Defined Prowords

Using standardized prowords are good to reduce the amount to transmission traffic, but since they are standardized, their meaning is (intentionally) common knowledge.  Some situations may require OPSEC.  In a sensitive situation, prowords are created and only shared with appropriate people.  Below are some examples of situationally-defined prowords. 

Proword

Description

Clean-up on aisle seven

Call an ambulance

Big Stick

Local law enforcement, example: “Call Big Stick”

Talley Ho

The lost item has been found – could be a lost person

 roger eaton

By Roger Eaton

Over thirty years of experience in information technology and over seventeen years of experience in emergency services converged to inspire Eaton to the develop Prep Smartz, emergency management software and Prep Smartz Academy.

 


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