20170730 - Islands of the Air (IOTA)

posted Jul 29, 2017, 3:17 AM by Glynn Davies   [ updated Jul 29, 2017, 3:18 AM ]
Islands On The Air (IOTA) is a programme designed to promote activity on the amateur bands in a way that provides enjoyment, fun and, if you want it, a challenge. 

Unlike the ARRL’s DXCC Programme which majors on contacts with countries, IOTA has as its purpose the making of two way contacts with fellow amateurs located on islands worldwide. Yes, there are hundreds of thousand such islands but IOTA has corralled them into 1200 IOTA groups, some with just one qualifying island, usually a large one, and others with more than 100 qualifying islands.

 The aim is to make one confirmed contact with a station in each of the 1200 groups. Just over 1100 have so far been activated, with some very remote ones remaining to be visited. As many as 700 groups have in some years been put on the air, so there are plenty to work. 

IOTA is managed by the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) who provide an introductory page to the program on their website.

In 1964 a British short wave listener Geoff Watts, started an activity programme based on contacting island groups around the world. He quickly realized that the numbers of individual islands worldwide was far too large to manage, so he brought them together into manageable groups of islands, forming the backbone of the award program as it stands today. Geoff managed the IOTA lists and records until 1985 when he handed over to the RSGB.


With so many islands and groups of islands in all continents, it can be difficult to keep track of where they are, or where the latest activations are taking place around the world. 

Close to the coastline of VK6, there are over 360 IOTA-registered islands – so with a boat and a few wet feet, your’re bound to be able to get to one of them. 

Mapping of IOTA islands and groups can be very helpful in gaining an extra perspective on the programme. Various mapping tools are available online, including www.iotamaps.org,  a sibling of the SOTA Mapping Project site, which provides mapping resources to the amateur radio Summits On The Air (SOTA) community. 

IOTAmaps provides dynamic mapping of all island groups worldwide and provides a regularly-updated IOTA/DX cluster to give the user up-to-date information of the latest IOTA activations as they are reported real-time. Drill-down to individual islands and their positions is also featured.

You only need to type IOTA into YouTube to see some great drone footage of recent activations.