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A sailing App to log your voyage - alert friends, Coastguard

by Sail-World Cruising round-up on 5 Aug 2013
SafeTRX on a phone .. .
Now here's an App that could change the boating habits of a generation of sailors, but for now it's just for Ireland. An App which logs your voyage directly onto your Smartphone so that friends and the local coastguard can monitor your voyage.

The Irish Sailing Association has just announced the introduction of ISA SafeTrx. It's free, and it's certainly smart. Other Coastguard organisations take note.


This App is so revolutionary it might go a long way to taking the anguish away from friends and family worrying about sailors on voyages, and could be destined to save lives on the water by having a yacht logged and the information easily accessible throughout their voyage.


Developed in association with Irish Coast Guard and DeCare Systems Ireland, ISA SafeTrx allows boat and leisure craft owners to log their voyages directly from their Smartphone which can then be accessed and monitored by their chosen contacts as well as the Coast Guard.

Available for both Android & Apple iOS devices (iPhone, iPad), ISA SafeTrx logs position reports every kilometre (or every 5 minutes if stationary). Should the user fail to return on time their Emergency Contacts will be alerted via SMS and advised to initiate the appropriate action. How Smart is that!

Voyage position reports are displayed on the SafeTrx Monitoring Console so where an Emergency Contact calls the Coast Guard concerning an overdue trip, the Coast Guard will have access to the user’s location and SafeTrx trip data through a secure SafeTrx server. As the ISA SafeTrx app periodically sends location data back to the servers, the Coast Guard's response team can get help directly and quickly.

ISA SafeTrx is simple to use. Just follow the 4 easy steps:

1. Download the app for free

2. Register your boat and emergency contact details

3. Enter your trip details and ETA. Tap 'Set Sail'

4. Arrive at destination, tap 'End Trip'

ISA SafeTrx requires Android’s OS 4.0+ or Apple’s iOS 5.0+ to install. You can find it in the App Stores by searching for 'ISA SafeTrx'. Once logged into the ISA SafeTrx app/boater website, please check that your mobile phone details are up to date and that there is a valid mobile phone listed for your emergency contacts. The ISA SafeTrx boater website can be found at https://safetrx.sailing.ie/login.html

For more information and to download the app for free go to www.sailing.ie/SafeTrx.

................
A contrary view received after this article was first printed:

Sender: Gary Delaney, owner/director GPS Ireland www.gpsireland.ie and of www.gpint.net:

You have not stated who has approved this app for marine safety use. My information is that nobody has and the Irish Coast Guard who is backing/promoting it has no role in the approval or supply of marine safety equipment.

The passage plan filing aspect of the app is useful however most marketing and even your own article focus on the position logging/sending aspect and ability of coast guard to find you in an emergency. However the app is based on GSM and/or GPRS communications which is widely understood to be unreliable in marine environments an no international marine safety organisation has ever approved or recommended technology based on mobile phones for marine safety use.

Sure the app could be useful but responsible organisations such as yours, or ISA or Irish Coast Guard, should not be encouraging its use and when mentioned clear warnings should be also communicated. The app is aimed at those from whom regulations do not require approved safety equipment to be carried.

These are the same persons who may have no training and may not be aware of related limitation and dangers of over reliance. Instead of promoting this app, responsible organisations would be much better served in promoting technologies that are approved and encouraging water users to use them voluntarily even though legislation may not require them to do so. This would be a much more effective safety campaign.

Other issues:
An app that is routinely sending position will be using more battery power than a dormant phone and the phone may not have any power at all left if needed for any other purpose
Weather deterioration can cause loss of phone coverage - exactly the conditions in which emergencies happen
It is never a good idea to mix normal communications with emeregency ones
Where several apps that use GPS on a smartphone, one may prevent proper running of the other.
The app uses Google maps - again the untrained may seek to use such maps for Navigation - suitable warnings should be in place.
Smartphones are not normally waterproof and have restricted battery life.
Some smartphones are known to have restricted GSM reception
Finally; - GSM Coverage around the Irish coast and nearshore does not have continual reliability and most marine agencies operating in those areas will not use GSM as a form of communications.

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