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Citizen Radio Network (CRN)

CRN email list -

Recent events have reminded us of how fragile our communications infrastructure really is. While we have a very technologically advanced society, the complex nature of it causes it to be prone to catastrophic failure. In the event of a breakdown of our systems - whether it be localized or nationwide - an alternative solution needs to be made available.

During an extreme emergency, local communities will need to band together to service its own needs as state or federal assistance may not be forthcoming. While this may have seemed apocalyptic in the past, it is something that should be considered even if this situation only occurs for a short period of time. Preparation is the first step toward taking care of yourself.

In response to this previously unthinkable occurrence, it has become clear that citizens need to be tied together for purposes of assistance, information distribution, and emergency service. Citizen Radio Network (CRN) is a proposal that addresses the needs of local groups of public service oriented citizens.

CRN is not an organization. It is an initiative to bring about a standard method and means for communities to stay in touch with and protect its residents during times of extreme emergencies. CRN is not about replacing existing emergency services like REACT, ham radio or any public safety organization. It is about the ability for concerned citizens to help themselves if these groups are not available or do not serve the particular interests of that community.

CRN uses readily available (and widely available) radio equipment that does not require a license to operate it. Citizen's Band (CB) radio and Family Radio Service (FRS) radios are the basis of the equipment involved. By using these two radio services inexpensive equipment can be acquired without much effort. Both radio services are designed for personal communications and the radio equipment reflects this by being easy to use. This combination allows a much larger and diverse group of individuals to become involved in a CRN operation than if ham radio or commercially licensed radio services were used.

Millions of CB radios have been sold throughout the country. Both mobile and base stations are in extremely wide use. Nearly every trucker has one installed and is used on a daily basis This is a large and established user base that can become a huge asset during a crisis. Simply adding additional stations in key locations can greatly benefit a community. Many times local CB radio operators will have extra equipment that could be pressed into service for the benefit of the community. Placement of a transceiver at the church or community center will allow anyone in the community to participate. Since most communications will be local, home made antennas could be used to customize the installation and keep costs down.

FRS radios can now be found in almost any department and sporting goods store. FRS radio are small and convenient. While their range is limited to less than 2 miles most communities can be serviced well with these radio.

CRN is attempting to create a standard that can be published and practice before a crisis occurs. This way anyone interested in serving their community will know how and where to start. It is important to be proactive if you are to be an effective service.

The following standard is a recommendation. It can be tailored to local conditions but should be adhered to as much as possible.

CB Radio

Emergency communications should be handled on channel 9 (27.065 MHz) since it is already designated as an emergency channel by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Traveler assistance is also allowed on this channel.

Informational assistance should be located on channel 11 (27.085 MHz). Local bulletins, traffic diversions, shelter information, etc. should be broadcast here. It can also serve as a calling frequency to contact other operators since will be the channel most important information be transmitted and should be well monitored. Once contacted, parties should move to another channel so that it does not inhibit further use of this channel.

Channel 13 (27.115 MHz) is designated as a secondary or overflow channel. If things get busy on channel 11, movement of traffic to this channel is recommended. Can also be used for special operations.

FRS radio

Channel 1 (462.5625 MHz) with no privacy tone is designated as the emergency channel. There are already many efforts being made by others to make this a defacto emergency channel.

Channel 11 (467.6375 MHz) with privacy tone 01 (PL = 67Hz) should be designated as the information channel.

Channel 14 (467.7125 MHz) with privacy tone 01 (PL = 67Hz) is designated as the overflow channel.

It is important that some coordination of services occur. CRN participants should make an effort to monitor both radio services whenever possible. In all cases, CRN operators must operate professionally and courteously. Use of properly operating radio equipment is a must. Overpowered, overmodulated CB equipment and noise toys could actually cause a CRN to fail and render it useless due to splatter and bleedover. Profanity or improper language is absolutely discouraged. Even use of CB lingo is discouraged as it may cause confusion to an inexperienced operator.

Here are some examples of what a CRN can do for a community. This is just a small slice of the potential a citizen radio network.

Situation: Flood

Problem: Streets and highways flooded, houses in danger of flood damage

CRN can be implemented to help with traffic diversion keeping traffic moving through the area. Mobile operators can help broadcast alternative routes around flood impacted areas. Shelter and evacuation broadcasts can be handled on channel 11 since it is the standard informational channel. Shelters can also participate if equipment is installed at those locations. Evacuated citizens could help operate the equipment at the shelter and offer them a purpose during the crisis.

Situation: Blizzard

Problem: Most streets are impassible. Power is out in many locations.

CRN members can pass along welfare information within the neighborhoods. Neighbors without power can be assisted by other neighbors who are in close proximity to them. Sharing of food, water can be quickly implemented with a short walk to a close neighbor in need. If someone has medical problems, then someone with a plow or snowblower could create a path to their door in case they need to be transported to a hospital. Serious issues can be called in to public safety agencies more quickly if neighbors spot trouble.

Situation: Crime or terrorist alerts

Problem: Police cannot be everywhere at once. High level of alert has been announced.

CRN members can create neighborhood watch groups. Suspicious individuals can be spotted and reported to police. Members can watch over local businesses and report problems to authorities. CRN members should only observe and report and never engage a person under suspicion. Increasing the number of observant people in the neighborhood will help to deter criminal activity as well as help identify those who commit crimes.

CRN is about people helping each other within a community. Sharing information and helping others in need can bond a community together. Anyone can start a CRN simply by having the desire to do so. Even a small group can have an impact if they truely desire to help their community. Setting up equipment in convenient locations can help increase a local CRN's reach. 

The events of September 11th have taught us that we need to stick together during times of distress and hardship. CRN helps to acheive this on a local level by enabling people to help their neighbors and community through direct involvement.

To contact us with suggestions or comments, please send email to


CRN Operations Sheet
Family Radio Service, An Option for Neighborhood Emergency Communications