First Responders: Display and monitor a subject’s location in your map with SMS
Update: This feature can only be created on the web version of the program at this time. You can not yet send the text from your mobile device.
Have you ever been talking to a lost person on the phone, but can’t get an accurate location for them? Have you had a subject tell you their coordinates, but it turns out they are in another state? How about a time when a patient is injured and finding them rapidly could make all the difference?
We’ve just added a new feature to team accounts that can help with all of those situations: SMS Locators. With this feature, you can quickly send a text to the missing person. Assuming that person has a smartphone with a cell signal, they can open a link that they receive in a text and send their location to a saved CalTopo map. Then anyone viewing that map can see the location of the user. The location will continue to update long as the user doesn’t close the page or leave cell service or turn off their device. Through the whole process, you never have to leave SARTopo/CalTopo.
This is a huge feature for helping to find missing persons, or to help responders navigate to a scene without delay. It can also potentially be used to locate a lost party, then verbally guide them out, all the while watching their progress in real time on your map. This could mean you don’t have to deploy teams to resolve a situation, perhaps instead talking the subject through their own rescue.
All members of a team account with a data connection can see the location of the lost or injured person, so each responder can navigate directly to that person without entering coordinates into their device by hand. Each responder can see their own location as well as that of the subject.
Additionally, this is all done within the CalTopo app, so responders benefit from the many other features of using CalTopo, such as satellite imagery, parcel data, and roads and trails on a variety of different base layers. Plus team leaders can view the location of all of their responders at the same time and on the same map.
To use this new feature, you must 1.) be a part of a team account subscription, and 2.) be working from a saved map. As long as these conditions are met, you can go to +Add, choose “locator”, then choose SMS locator.
Once you’ve sent the text and the subject opens the link, you’ll start to get a track.
Additional information for the status of the locator is available, so you can see that the link has been activated, when the last update took place, and even send another message to the user (it’s a one way system though.)
Here’s where things really get useful: any team member can open the same map via the mobile app, and navigate to the subject. Here we see a mobile app user finding the app track in the map items list. In the next image, the app user has their location turned on and is pointing more or less in the direction of the sms user.
If you are using a team account, go try it out! The best way to figure it out is to use it.