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App to alert friends when overdue from a trip

Original Post
david ladowitz · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 0

Recently I've been thinking about building an app that would alert my friends or family if I don't come back from a climbing trip.
I'm wondering if something like this already exists. And if it seems useful to anyone.
I feel like I saw this years ago but now can't find.

The basic idea is that you could predefine a list of emergency contacts.
Before going on a trip you'd create details about the trip like location and routes.
You would set a planned return date and time.
You would get text notifications on the planned return time.
If you don't respond to the notifications alerts would go out to your emergency contacts with your trip details.

Does anyone think they would use this?

Thanks
David

amarius · · Nowhere, OK · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 20

Cool idea. But, you probably need a server for this to work - if the service is phone based, and the phone gets lost you are SOOL

As quick dirty hack - gmail allows to schedule emails, you could set it up to  be sent after the expected trip is supposed to be done. Of course, you would have to remember to cancel that email ;)
Scheduling gmail​​​

Malcolm Daly · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 380

My Garmin InReach Satellite rig does that. It can provide live or scheduled tracking, too.
Mal

mpech · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 2

Doesnt the spot device do this?

my suggestion:
-- do the scheduled gmail mentioned above, if you want a free solution that will likely freak your family+friends out every once in a while
- get a garmin in reach mini, and have the ability for you/your partner to contact people when you need help. 

Bill Lawry · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,696

I like amarius’s gmail idea. Very simple.

Dylan B. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 521

Don’t see the need for a deadman switch. I just tell my wife where I’m going, and she knows I’ll text her when I’m on the ground. She knows roughly when “on the ground” will be. If I don’t text, she calls or texts. If I don’t respond, then she starts to worry and goes from there. I always respond.

Where’s the advantage of an auto-message I need to cancel, over just sending a message?

Dave Baker · · Durham, NC · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 293

Have you seen https://kitestring.io/ - it might be what you're looking for.

Xam · · Boulder, Co · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 71
Dylan B. wrote: Don’t see the need for a deadman switch. I just tell my wife where I’m going, and she knows I’ll text her when I’m on the ground. She knows roughly when “on the ground” will be. If I don’t text, she calls or texts. If I don’t respond, then she starts to worry and goes from there. I always respond.

Where’s the advantage of an auto-message I need to cancel, over just sending a message?

Some of us don't have wives or others we are comfortable with waiting for an 'ok' message every week. The deadman switch email seems like a good solution....write your trip details and a note that say that says: If you get this, trusted friend, I am x hours overdue.  Please give me a call to confirm, then contact authorities.  

Good idea for us loners so we don't end up in a 127hrs scenario. 

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 1,145

The point of a live person calling you in missing, is it works without signal or devices or anything else. A person you totally trust should have your plans, and not just a vague time. A hiker died in the Boise foothills when the search didn't happen until they didn't make it to work on a Monday. If they had let someone know on Saturday, they would likely be alive. Worse, it snowed. The body wasn't even found for weeks.

Allow your extra time, then set a hard and fast call in. If you don't call in by then, they are to call 911 and report you overdue. You can then forward the email or whatever with locations to the authorities. Local 911 will figure it out from there, and contact any other agencies needed.

My son is SAR, loves to go exploring the wilds solo, and has been giving me gps coordinates and plans since he was a teenager. I haven't had to call him in yet.....but he came within 15 minutes once! Just didn't allow enough time for the worst road in Idaho, lol!

OP, if you do try to build this, their still needs to be a single person calling it in. I could see it perhaps being useful to build the email to send to a contact (a form to fill out), but a trusted contact with a specific time to make that call is still the best, IMO.

Best, Helen

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 1,145
Xam wrote:

Some of us don't have wives or others we are comfortable with waiting for an 'ok' message every week. The deadman switch email seems like a good solution....write your trip details and a note that say that says: If you get this, trusted friend, that I am x hours overdue, please give me a call to confirm then contact authorities.  Good idea for us loners so we don't end up in a 127hrs scenario. 

But what if the trusted friend's phone happens to have a dead battery? Or they are out also, away from signal? Just something to ponder, for the OP.

Best, Helen
Dylan B. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 521
Xam wrote:

Some of us don't have wives or others we are comfortable with waiting for an 'ok' message every week. The deadman switch email seems like a good solution....write your trip details and a note that say that says: If you get this, trusted friend, that I am x hours overdue, please give me a call to confirm then contact authorities.  Good idea for us loners so we don't end up in a 127hrs scenario. 

Guess that makes sense. 

Bob Harrington · · Bishop, CA · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

Sounds like a recipe for bogus SAR callouts.  An InReach allows you to notify the authorities that you need assistance, even before you are overdue, and allows you to notify your emergency contacts that you are OK, even after you are overdue.

mpech · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 2
Bob Harrington wrote: Sounds like a recipe for bogus SAR callouts.  An InReach allows you to notify the authorities that you need assistance, even before you are overdue, and allows you to notify your emergency contacts that you are OK, even after you are overdue.

yup, you are spot on. I know someone that went on a backpacking trip, planning to send out an "everything's OK" message every night to their parents. They lost the device and were forced to hike all the way out to civilization so that their parents wouldn't call in a rescue.... 

Bob Harrington · · Bishop, CA · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 0

Well, yeah,  there's no cure for being a bonehead.  It's worth telling your contacts that the battery might die and just because they don't get a daily message doesn't mean there's a problem.

david ladowitz · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 0

Yes, for sure this would be server-based. I'm a web developer by day, so wouldn't be too hard to build.

amarius wrote: Cool idea. But, you probably need a server for this to work - if the service is phone based, and the phone gets lost you are SOOL

As quick dirty hack - gmail allows to schedule emails, you could set it up to  be sent after the expected trip is supposed to be done. Of course, you would have to remember to cancel that email ;)
Scheduling gmail


Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 312

My wife knows the rules.... a 4 day planned trip... don’t call for at least 2 days late. If a week to two weeks... don’t call for at least a week. 
I always leave her with a map of where I’m going and contact info for my partners contacts.
   
Not every trip goes as planed and sometimes one needs to hang out waiting for conditions to improve or your just going slow and will not or cannot bail just to keep to some schedule.

The delayed msg seems like a good idea though but what should it say?

“Dear Friends, could somebody go feed my goldfish and inform my landlord that this is 30 day notice. I just hooked up with a hawt woman from Monaco- she says I’m adorable and wants to take care of me forever. And oh yea- one more thing. Tell my Boss he can go to heck- he can make those sales calls..... I quit. THX”.

lol

Edit- Bob gets it. 10/10

david ladowitz · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 0

Thanks, everyone,

This is really good info to think about. Interesting to see the amount of quick feedback. Seems like this is something worth exploring more.

1. Yes, if you have a significant other, they'll likely know where you are going and when you are to be back. Not everyone has that though. Also, this might get people to leave more details about their location if I create a form that prompts for certain things.

2. Yes, I agree this might increase bogus SAR calls. I'd need to give some thinking on how to prevent too many. Maybe some time schedule to pass to SAR so they can better decide if this is worth them going out for. They'd be the best to recognize bogus reports. If this took off, I'd call a few SAR organizations to find out how they felt about it and what would make it better. 

3. It would be up to the designated contacts who are alerted to call SAR. Maybe there would be some instructions on when to start worrying, when to start calling friends and when to start calling SAR.

4. It's cool that the Garmin and Spot devices have this. I personally don't have one cause they cost money. Maybe I should though. I don't do any backcountry climbing so haven't really thought about getting one. This could be like the poor man's version of those devices.

5. Ahh yeah, https://kitestring.io/ is what I saw before. I'll play with it and see what details it allows and options for contact.

PWZ · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 0
Old lady H wrote:

But what if the trusted friend's phone happens to have a dead battery? Or they are out also, away from signal? Just something to ponder, for the OP.

Best, Helen

you get by the way everyone did not that long ago.

Xam · · Boulder, Co · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 71
Old lady H wrote:

But what if the trusted friend's phone happens to have a dead battery? Or they are out also, away from signal? Just something to ponder, for the OP.

Best, Helen

Huh.  If only there was some way to send an email to more than one person simultaneously.  Someone should really work on that.  Perhaps they can use the old-school memo terminology based on carbon paper based copy technology? Something to ponder. 

Bill Lawry · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,696
david ladowitz wrote:
2. Yes, I agree this might increase bogus SAR calls. I'd need to give some thinking on how to prevent too many. Maybe some time schedule to pass to SAR so they can better decide if this is worth them going out for. They'd be the best to recognize bogus reports. If this took off, I'd call a few SAR organizations to find out how they felt about it and what would make it better.
And / or include a pre-emptive reminder message to the originator that the alert is about to fire - with options to deliver that pre-emptive message by phone, text, email, etc..

And a definitely cringe-worthy suggestion: include in the alert a field for things to check before calling SAR - like try to call me at xxx.xxx.xxxx, or call my work buddy to see I showed up at work Monday morning.

Make it so it can be turned off by text message. Or by a phone call. Or email. In short, by any practical means.

Ways to set it up should be pretty versatile as well, allowing people to set it up at the last moment possible when wilderness plans are most accurate.

And the whole service needs to be incredibly robust. Handling a request to turn it off can not fail. Handling that gets the alert message out can not fail. I guess also having folks sign a waiver would be advised.

Do talk with SAR folks. I suspect what they we will want is as much detail as possible about the itinerary and not things aimed at helping them decide whether or when to respond. But I could be wrong. 

I did try out gmails scheduling of emails.  Pretty easy though requires internet / cell data.

And I do not think I would use such a service let alone pay for it.   It is just too easy for me to leave the information and duty in the hands of someone who knows me well and is reliable. 
Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 1,145
Xam wrote:

Huh.  If only there was some way to send an email to more than one person simultaneously.  Someone should really work on that.  Perhaps they can use the old-school memo terminology based on carbon paper based copy technology? Something to ponder. 

To you and the other upstream, for the OP to consider and add in. Sheesh. 

And how old are you, to remember carbon paper! Did you use it with your papyrus? Sucks trying to carbon a petroglyph...

;-) H.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

General Climbing
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