[aprssig] APRStt and SAR (SARTrack option)

SARTrack Admin info at sartrack.co.nz
Wed May 20 02:45:22 EDT 2015

Now that this discussion regarding tracking of SAR teams has started on 
this list, I would like to update the users on the (free) SARTrack 
software. Also see my comment about the 3x3 grid reference at the bottom.

The (windows based) SARTrack software was designed initially especially 
for tracking of SAR teams using APRS.
In the last 7 years of development, many more ways of tracking teams 
have been added:
SARTrack can now decode: 2 types of generic GPS microphones; Kenwood 
Fleetsync GPS based radios; Icom GPS based radios; Tait GPS based 
radios. In all these cases SARTrack can request (poll) any radios in the 
field for their position. Furthermore several Satellite based trackers 
are supported (Spot, InReach, etc). And the program can decode AIS 
(vessel) positions direct via a receiver or from a website.

All these non-APRS tracking data is converted by SARTrack into APRS 
Objects, with a optional 'Tactical' callsign. And all this data can then 
be forwarded over the APRS network (normally a private network or Firenet).

On top of this tracking system, and the many OSM based maps available, 
SARTrack now also has a new very fast Database Server.
Through this server all tracking data can be distributed to many 
SARTrack clients, but most importantly, full Operational Management of 
People, Equipment and Teams is now possible.
At the begining of aq SAROP available team members and equipment can be 
'drag-and-dropped' into new Teams. These Teams can be linked 
(automatically) to a Tracker (APRS or a commercial radio with GPS) and 
get their Initial Assignment.
 From that moment on, their position is visible on the maps, and the 
status of all Teams (all Radio Log messages between Operations and Team) 
can be viewed in sepparate Tabs on a window, and also on a 'whiteboard' 
Timeline window.

To any SAR, Emergency Services or Cicil Defence organisation on this 
list, I suggest have a play with it, it is totally free, and a lot of 
new development is going on.


Finally, a comment of this whole issue of 'short-cut' coordinates.
The system of 3x3 digits was based on the fact that in the old days the 
Teams had to try and locate their own position by reference of their 
suroundings. The Grid they then got from their map was obviousely very 
rough, and using a short 6 digit radio message made sense.

But now the Teams have a GPS unit with them. Trying to read the _right_ 
3x3 digits from the entire grid reference is prone to major errors.
But worse, what is the use of a 100 by 100 meter grid reference, while 
you really want to know where they are excactly? They can be passing the 
victim at 10 meters, and the Operations team sees them at a 100 meter 
grid, and this is the data normally used for any coroners inquest.

I have been advocating that teams in the field, if they do NOT have any 
type of Tracker, transmit the FULL grid coordinates, or at least the 
last 5 digits of Easting and Northing (in my own SAR group's case, the 
New Zealand NZTM Grid system). This gives a 1 meter reference.

Also: any 3x3 grid reference can be ANYWHERE because they are based on a 
certain Map or UTM area. If you work accross multiple maps, In New 
Zealand you could theoreticaly be at 4 different locations depending on 
which Map you would assign your 3x3 digits! One Team could be just on 
one Map, and another Team would be operating accross the border on 
another Map. Where are you going to put them when the info comes in from 
the radio operator?

So, my feeling is, use at least the last 5 digits of any Grid system, 
and even then you still need to know initially where they are before 
they can be entered on a computer Grid based system.


Bart Kindt ZL4FOX / PA2FOX
SARTrack developer


SARTrack Developer and CEO

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