DeLorme offers satellite group tracking, messaging and SOS alerting for remote workers

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DeLorme has announced the availability of new enterprise plans and services that will make it easier for business and government customers to track, monitor and communicate with workers in remote locations using inReach personal satellite communicators.

DeLorme’s inReach handheld devices provide interactive SOS alerting, GPS tracking and locating and two-way text messaging, anywhere on the face of the Earth through the global Iridium satellite network. When coupled with DeLorme’s enterprise portal, inReach satellite communicators provide an ideal solution for oil and gas, mining, forestry, utilities and telecommunications companies, as well as disaster relief, law enforcement, medical teams and government agencies with operations over wide areas beyond cellular coverage.

“Safety and security of workers in the field is an increasing concern,” said Jim Skillings, vice president of commercial products for DeLorme. “Despite the growth in terrestrial wireless networks, there are still many open spaces that are off the grid. Our inReach satellite communicators provide a vital lifeline for workers wherever they go, and our enterprise plans provide a wealth of value-added features for companies and organisations with inReach users around the world.”

Networking, team tracking and two-way messaging features

The DeLorme secure enterprise portal provides convenient centralised management and networking of deployed inReach devices. A DeLorme enterprise customer can track hundreds of inReach users simultaneously from multiple locations, organise groups of users, initiate or switch off remote tracking for any unit, adjust response intervals, ping device locations, communicate via two-way text messaging with inReach individuals or groups and record tracks, locations and messages. System admin can manage groups, customise user IDs and monitor data usage for each group or device. Encrypted messaging is also possible as an option. The inReach team-tracking feature allows users to view the locations and communicate directly with other users.

DeLorme also provides a convenient Web-based API tool for enterprise software developers, enabling each organisation to customise the system for its specific needs.

inReach differs from other emergency satellite transmitters, in that it provides full two-way communication. When an SOS call is initiated from the inReach, the message goes through the Iridium satellites to an international search-and-rescue (SAR) coordination center. Within minutes the user gets a text message acknowledging the SOS message and asking for more information. This allows the SAR authorities to determine if it is an accidental false alert and to assess the nature of the emergency so they can respond with appropriate resources. Throughout the rescue process, the user and SAR responders can engage in continuous text messaging back and forth.

Users in the field can pair the inReach wirelessly via Bluetooth with a smartphone or tablet, to provide a dashboard control panel for the unit and facilitate easier typing and messaging.  Topographic cartography can also be loaded onto the mobile device, so the user can see GPS location and tracks and follow other team members on a detailed map display. The inReach or mobile device can also be loaded with custom forms for data collection in GIS applications.

The inReach SE and inReach Explorer

The inReach satellite communicators are offered in two versions: inReach SE and inReach Explorer. The Explorer model has additional built-in navigation features, including a digital magnetic compass, altimeter and accelerometer. With the inReach Explorer, the user can navigate from point to point, create waypoints and routes, retrace the “bread-crumb” trail to a previous location and view statistics such as trip distance and speed of travel. The rugged handheld devices have a water rating of IP67, and are dustproof, impact resistant and weigh just 6.7 ounces. They provide up to 30 days of battery life in 30-minute extended tracking mode with ideal conditions. The communicators consistently achieve GPS accuracy within five meters and 99.9 percent successful transmission rates — even under dense tree cover, in valleys and other locations where satellite visibility is restricted.

Since the initial launch of the first inReach satellite communicators in 2012, over 70,000 units have been deployed, primarily for outdoor enthusiasts involved in hiking, climbing, skiing, paragliding, hunting, fishing, boating and flying. More than 40 million messages and track points have been sent through the devices. In the peak season of 2014, there was an average of five inReach-assisted rescues per week.

“After establishing the inReach products firmly in consumer markets, we are now fleshing out dedicated enterprise features and service plans in response to demand from safety and security managers in the corporate and government sector, who have approached us with requests for reliable, convenient and affordable solutions for group tracking,” said Skillings.

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