Need help in using smartphone gps for search and rescue

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  1. #1
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    Default Need help in using smartphone gps for search and rescue

    Hi:

    I'm part of a workgroup developing GIS and technology for search and rescue (SAR). Increasingly, calls for help are coming from people with smartphones of various models. As you folks know, many of these phones are GPS capable. Getting the coordinates of a person in trouble is a huge help to the people responding, especially in remote terrain. Unfortunately, it often happens that neither the person using the phone nor the responder (e.g. dispatcher, police agency or SAR team) knows enough to figure out how to get the coordinates from the phone.

    SAR teams in the UK have been able to successfully talk lost people into downloading an app for their phone and then having them run it and read the coordinates:

    (hmmm. I'm not allowed to post URL. But Google:
    BBC News - Brecon Mountain Rescue reach walkers with smart phone app)

    Another group in the UK has developed some sort of web site where lost people can enter the URL and the app reads the coordinates of the phone:

    Google:]Mountain Rescue Teams harness iPhone app (SARLOC) to help locate lost hillwalkers

    I'm pretty clueless about smartphones and need someone to write up a summary of how to go about the former (downloading an app) or, extra credit, developing the latter (a web site which reads the coordinates of the phone). We've got a workshop and safety presentation coming up in a month at Grand Canyon and it would be great if we could distribute a 'how to' for the major types of phones out there.

    Something along the lines of an easy to read set of questions for the dispatcher to determine the type of phone, then a url to go to get an app; then how to read the coordinates.

    I don't know anything about the latter method, but you'd be a hero if you could develop such a site in the US. I've written the teams involved but gotten no response.

    Post a reply here and I can get my contact information to you for further discussion.

    Many thanks!

    George Durkee
    MapSAR Project Coordinator
    Twain Harte, CA

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Need help in using smartphone gps for search and rescue

    very belated welcome to Brighthand, George

    have you contacted Russell Hore regarding SARLOC?
    SARLOC is a tool developed by Russell Leslie Hore primarily to assist
    Mountain Rescue Team to locate 'lost' people via their mobile 'phone.
    The service is free to use.
    If you would like to copy the idea or use it commercially please contact
    Russell Hore at "sarloc at russ-hore dot co dot uk"
    as for smartphone apps, some have the required (by SAR personnel) tools built in, others can run free apps available from, for example, the official app store for their operating system (for example, Android's app store is called the 'Play Store'). I'm currently inside and can't get a GPS signal, so I can't verify that the Maps or Navigation app on my Android phone provides latitude and longitude, but a free Android app called Ulysse Gizmos does; again, not sure about others I have as I have no signal at the moment.

    oh, just saw that you'd had no response from the teams involved; sorry to hear that.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Need help in using smartphone gps for search and rescue

    It's a good point. The OS's ought to make that an easy piece of info to get from a phone via a menu option (without a separate app), like getting your cellphone number. (Of course, they'd have to make clear that you have to turn on location services first if they're not activated.)

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Need help in using smartphone gps for search and rescue

    Rick & Varjak:

    Many thanks for your reply. The good news is I wrote Russ directly (somehow missed his direct address -- so you saved me there!) and he replied. We're currently coordinating using his web site in the US. Looks really useful (and very cool) for the sub-set of phones it works with. I'll post more as we figure this stuff out.

    One of his group has also developed an app that can be downloaded and then used to send coordinates to another web site, then projected onto Google Maps. Both these systems have been very successfully used to find lost & injured hikers in the UK. The tech is beyond me, but I'm sure some of our folks can figure it out.

    Anyway, thanks again for your help. I'll post updates as we implement some of this.

    George

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Need help in using smartphone gps for search and rescue

    please do keep us updated; I'd be surprised if you couldn't come up with a group of smartphone testers here, to help expand the base of phones known to work with the web-based system.

    good luck! it's a great project
    My useful BH links -- BH FAQS/repair options/digitizer discussions
    ~"Friends are the Fambly we choose" ~"Shared pain is diminished, shared joy is increased"
    ~inanimate objects are smarter than we give them credit for~our lives are too short to not help others
    ~"when you find a big kettle of crazy, it's best not to stir it" Dilbert 9/22/09
    ~RAiD: making no decision is really making the choice to do nothing, about something
    ~The beauty of learning to let go of anger and those things we cannot change is that you can make choices
    and deal with things on your own terms and not have them affect your whole day or those around you.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Need help in using smartphone gps for search and rescue

    Maybe Google ought to include an option in G Maps so that your coordinates can be overlayed on the map when you want them. A simple drop box ought to suffice.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Need help in using smartphone gps for search and rescue

    Quote Originally Posted by Varjak View Post
    Maybe Google ought to include an option in G Maps so that your coordinates can be overlayed on the map when you want them. A simple drop box ought to suffice.
    It does already, indirectly, via email or text; the indirect part is that it sends you a link to google maps, where you can see the lat & long values
    My useful BH links -- BH FAQS/repair options/digitizer discussions
    ~"Friends are the Fambly we choose" ~"Shared pain is diminished, shared joy is increased"
    ~inanimate objects are smarter than we give them credit for~our lives are too short to not help others
    ~"when you find a big kettle of crazy, it's best not to stir it" Dilbert 9/22/09
    ~RAiD: making no decision is really making the choice to do nothing, about something
    ~The beauty of learning to let go of anger and those things we cannot change is that you can make choices
    and deal with things on your own terms and not have them affect your whole day or those around you.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Need help in using smartphone gps for search and rescue

    But that doesn't solve the problem mentioned. Some screen gesture ought to just bring it up, so that you can report it upon request. An e-mail or text is okay; but it should be some kind of semi-automatic feature. Like a distress call.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Need help in using smartphone gps for search and rescue

    FWIW, this website does your lat/long if you allow it:
    Arby's Store Locator
    on my phone…
    My useful BH links -- BH FAQS/repair options/digitizer discussions
    ~"Friends are the Fambly we choose" ~"Shared pain is diminished, shared joy is increased"
    ~inanimate objects are smarter than we give them credit for~our lives are too short to not help others
    ~"when you find a big kettle of crazy, it's best not to stir it" Dilbert 9/22/09
    ~RAiD: making no decision is really making the choice to do nothing, about something
    ~The beauty of learning to let go of anger and those things we cannot change is that you can make choices
    and deal with things on your own terms and not have them affect your whole day or those around you.


 

 

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