“For us, the ability to get out a map and compass when you are on a live search with a mountain bike, or even in a kayak is somewhat restricted!” says Duane Hasnip, Leading Technician at Cambridgeshire Search and Rescue (CamSAR), as he explains how Cambridge innovation is helping them carry out their work more efficiently and with greater ease.
CamSAR work on tough terrain, often in the dark with difficult weather conditions, carrying equipment whilst having to search for a missing person or casualty. Many places aren’t accessible by vehicle and so the teams have to search on foot, mountain bike or even by kayak. In these environments navigating by paper map would be highly time-consuming in a situation where time can literally cost lives.
The CamSAR team use ViewRanger, the Cambridge-based GPS mapping and navigation app, to view digital Ordnance Survey maps on their smartphone or tablet, with GPS showing their exact location in real time.
Wayne Bent, Vice Chair of CamSAR says:
“This technology is great and I can be confident in knowing that the area I need searching can be found and searched in an assured manner with the even greater benefit of a track log to confirm the exact area searched. We use ViewRanger for planning, delivering, recording and confirming. It is the complete Mapping Master.”
The ViewRanger app was one of the first in the world to be Android Wear enabled, meaning that a range of vital data, such as current coordinates, altitude, time, distance and direction, as well as navigation elements if following a route, can all be viewed at a glance from the smart watch.
Duane was given the opportunity to test ViewRanger running on an Android Wear smart watch and says:
“I think the Android Wear watches would be of immense use for us, particularly for the foot, bike and kayak teams, where it would be invaluable out on a live search.
“The ability for a search team member to quickly and accurately communicate a grid reference to search control, record a track and navigate to a waypoint, without the need to get their smartphone out of their pocket is outstanding!”
As a Cambridge-based company, ViewRanger were keen to preview ‘the future of SAR’ to CamSAR as Emily Boldy explains:
“The dawn of wearable technology is a really exciting time for us as there are many applications for ViewRanger on these devices. Smart watches offer a new, less intrusive way to access time-sensitive information, all through a quick glance at your wrist.
“We think that people will soon get used to checking their wrist for a range of information, keeping their smartphone in a pocket or backpack for when a larger screen is required.
“But the smart watches won’t just be useful for SAR teams. There are many sports where you need to keep your hands free for both safety and enjoyment, but would also benefit from having instant hands-free access to ViewRanger data. Such as mountain-biking, climbing, air-sports and kayaking. A smart watch running ViewRanger completely transforms the app experience for these activities.”