The future of the IOTA programme

    UPDATE – Roger G3KMA, RSGB IOTA Manager, comments:

    I am delighted with the news announced by the RSGB about the future of IOTA – that, following the initial statement of intent last year, terms of agreement have been fleshed out for the programme to be run by a new body in partnership with the RSGB. This new body will take the form, we hope, of a Foundation Charitable Incorporated Organisation, with the name Islands on the Air Foundation (IOTAF). It will be a separate legal body. I have to thank the RSGB Board for acknowledging that the future sustainability of IOTA is of paramount importance to thousands of amateurs worldwide and that this must be the overriding consideration. Why the change? IOTA has risen from a niche programme to one that is mainstream and second only to DXCC as the international driver of activity on our bands. Increasingly, serious IOTA-watchers saw that the programme needed to be allowed to spread its wings, particularly to have control of its finances and to draw on the pool of overseas helpers in its management. The decision now to embark on the paperless QSLing project, a significant project with many challenges, provided the necessary stimulus for bringing in the change and for making it in a timely way. On Sunday morning at the RSGB Convention, Johan, PA3EXX, our IOTA IT Project Leader, gave a progress report on the project. He explained that the initial technical design papers have been written and that implementation work will start shortly. We envisage a launch in Spring 2017 after the annual update exercise although we will try to make it sooner. Looking back I should like to thank all who through many years helped IOTA to grow, and the RSGB Board for trusting us with this significant change. From the Foundation’s side, we look forward to a harmonious and successful partnership with the Society in taking the programme forward.

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    Islands on the Air (IOTA) celebrated its 50th anniversary as a premier DX programme in July 2014. The last fifty years have seen the programme grow to 2,500 active island chasers and approximately 15,000 more casual participants. It is perhaps second in scale and scope to the DXCC award; indeed, many would argue it is even more challenging than that programme.

    Last year the Society’s Board identified a number of challenges that the programme faced, not least of which was the need to provide an IT system that would allow online island credit submission akin to Logbook of the World (LoTW). Since that time, a small group of IOTA enthusiasts has been working with the Society to ensure that the IOTA programme continues to grow and play the prominent role that it has done in Amateur Radio DXing and contest activity for the last fifty years.

    That work has now come to fruition and we are pleased to announce that a new organisation will be formed, to be called the IOTA Foundation. It will be run by IOTA enthusiasts and will manage the IOTA programme in partnership with the Society. One major task for the new organisation will be to develop a new online credit system that is due to be completed in 2017.

    Roger Balister, G3KMA, Bob Barden, MD0CCE, Cezar Trifu, VE3LYC and Johan Willemsen, PA3EXX, are the team who will implement the IT changes and form the IOTA Foundation, with representation from radio amateurs at home and abroad.

    [Download RSGB press release – the future of the IOTA Programme]

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