A simple tracking service for Search and Rescue to locate lost people by smart phone
After many years with a Search and Rescue team I’ve noticed that most of the people we search for don’t know how to make their smart phone show where they are, or share that location with us. Even worse, the location is often very approximate, and while the phone records the accuracy, almost no methods used for location sharing include this value. This is very important for SAR work because it tells us if the location is a general area or a specific point.
Communicating with the lost subject is confounded by many factors; remote location, bad signal, low batteries, low temperatures and precipitation. Long conversations on the phone reduce battery life and make the job of find the subject harder. It seemed like there should be a way to “Ping” the phone and ask it to send back it’s location.
With the arrival of HTML5 and specifically the Geolocation API there is a simple way to get a web page to access the phone’s location. This API provided the foundation for writing a service that allows one party to request the location of another party by asking them to click on an URL. YourLo.ca/tion is that service.
The party requesting a location goes to YourLo.ca/tion and fills in the Request form with their name, the email address they want the location sent to, and a short message.
They then email or SMS the URL generated to the party whose location they want. This is the “PING”.
When the recipient hits the link, the page will request permission to access their location. If permission is granted, the page determines the location and emails it to the requesting party.
A position tracker and other features are planned.
I struggled with the licencing options for this project. This particular bundle of features is fairly unique, and while the component parts of this project (Geolocation API, Short URL, SMS, Markdown, Bootstrap) are free and open source, I’ve decided that at the moment I’d like to reserve licensing, so for now this project is closed source. Myself and my team will be the sole developers and curators of the service.
The service is free however, and I’m planning on adding the ability to embed the location code into your own web site in the future.
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