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The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) charity has signed a new three-year exclusive contract with Mapyx, a value added reseller (VAR) of Globalstar Europe Satellite Services Ltd, to provide tracking using the SPOT Gen3 satellite tracker.
Every year, 300,000 young people take part in DofE expeditions across the UK. With the SPOT Gen3 devices and Mapyx’s mapping and tracking, leaders can track the location of each expedition group of five to seven people, while each group can send standard messages and request help if required.
With hundreds of UK schools already using its product, Mapyx tracks more than 10,000 young people each year. It also provides satellite tracking and SOS for school trips to regions with unreliable mobile communications including the Himalayas and Mount Kilimanjaro.
Mapyx and SPOT gives a picture of each group’s journey and location meaning staff no longer have to wait hours for groups to arrive at checkpoints. Staff can keep their distance while still having an overview.
The pocked-sized SPOT Gen3 lets users send pre-programmed messages to expedition organisers, for example, letting them know they have arrived at a checkpoint; are taking a break; or require help. If the worst should happen, the participants can simply press the one-touch SOS button to send their GPS location to initiate emergency response procedures. Mapyx then works with GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Centre (IERCC) and, if required, UK Mission Control Centre (UKMCC) and Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) to manage the emergency response.
Mapyx offers a full search management, control system and tracking interface that uses Ordnance Survey maps, aerial imagery and even building plans. Unlike a basic service offered on Google Maps, Mapyx provides extra local terrain conditions and local details such as landmarks that can provide help for any rescue.
Dave Wells, RAF Volunteer Reserve Training Branch Squadron Leader and Deputy Regional DofE Officer, Wales and West Region, said: “We have used Mapyx and SPOT technology for about three years and have found it to be incredibly useful. We can keep track of groups with minimum physical interaction thus enriching the experience of the participants. The safety factor makes us more secure in the application of our duty of care. As an example, one summer we had a gold group near Capel Curig in Snowdonia and the weather had deteriorated. When one participant slipped and sprained her ankle, the group used SPOT to send us a help message. Because SPOT sent the group’s exact GPS position, we were able to get to them in a 4×4 and evacuate the injured girl within 20 minutes. Given the conditions, the least time spent immobile the better. The rest of the group was then able to proceed and complete their expedition.”
And Peter Schooling, DofE Commercial Director, said: “We have partnered with Mapyx for five years and in that time have contributed towards the safe running of expeditions for many DofE participants as they hike across some of the UK’s most challenging terrain. On the back of this successful partnership we have extended our contract with Mapyx for a further three years. We first partnered with Mapyx when we saw how organisations including Mountain Rescue, the Ministry of Defence and fire services were using Mapyx and SPOT trackers to make their search and rescue operations so much more effective.”