When Search and Rescue (SAR) teams are looking for a lost subject, they often find that the lost people have a smart phone with a GPS but they don’t know how to get it to display their position, or send that position to the SAR team.
Sometimes, the lost people don’t even know SAR is looking for them!
In margnial communications conditions (remote location, cold temperatures, low batteries) this can make for some stressful conversations where the SAR members try to tell a lost person how to make their phone work.
This application is meant to solve part of that problem by automatically determining the phone’s location and allowing the subject to email, text, or just read the coordinates out over the phone.
The inspiration for YourLo.ca/tion came from reading about a very similar application known as SARLOC being used in the UK with some success. Once I read the description of that application, I immediately realized how it was done and decided to put together this site.
With some very good ideas from my friend and SAR Associate Tom Zajac, the site was developed over a period of three days and launched on March 4th, 2013.
A further confounding factor is that of the many methods people have for sharing their location, almost none of them include an estimate of the error, or accuracy. This includes Google Maps on the iPhone and Android operating systems.
The estimate of error is extremely important for many reasons. The main reason is the error can be thousands of meters. This means a location is only good for determining the city, and can’t be used to locate the individual.
Another reason that is well documented is that low accuracy positions often default to a certain coordinate. It can waste a lot of time and effort if emergency responders go to the wrong location.
YourLo.ca/tion does three main things
- It determines your location and an estimate of the error
- It asks for someone else’s location and estimates the error
- It displays a location, and the estimate of the error.
We believe that these three features are valuable, and are largely ignored by other services that pretend far greater acuracy than is actually possible. We believe that these three features are not only valuable to search and rescue and other emergency responder, but to the general public as well.
We hope by providing this service we can assist in locating lost people, and educate the public about the actual value of their mobile devices.