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17 May, 2011 - 13:23 By News Desk

Cambridge technology in search for missing people


Cambridge GPS technology has been made available to rescue teams using tracker dogs to trace missing people.

ViewRanger GPS, a leading outdoors app for mapping, tracking, navigation and location sharing, is now helping Lowland Search Dogs teams through the ViewRanger VSAR Program that delivers the app, plus maps, to accredited search teams.

ViewRanger is already used by 50 per cent of mountain rescue teams in England and Wales and by search and rescue teams in Scotland and Ireland.

For them, the app offers a combination of detailed Ordnance Survey mapping, accurate GPS location, search track recording and the unique BuddyBeacon location sharing that lets users see the position of other team members while literally out in the field. The ViewRanger app runs on Apple, Android, and Nokia Symbian smartphones and tablets.

Of particular note to Lowland Search Dog teams will be ViewRanger's exclusive integration with the Retrieva Tracking GPS dog collars, that allows even the search dogs themselves to be tracked in real-time as part of the BuddyBeacon location sharing feature.

Séamus Kearns, chairman of Lowland Search Dogs, said: “The ability to have accurate mapping in the field is essential in order to search for missing people.

“Using the terrain and contour lines can significantly reduce the time taken to search an area with a dog, and ultimately save lives. Viewranger apps also allows reliable and portable tracking of routes and paths on a smartphone often, negating the need for expensive GPS devices.”

Craig Wareham, CEO and co-founder of ViewRanger added: “We are all keen outdoor enthusiasts at ViewRanger and the VSAR Program is one small way that we can recognise and support the superb work done by search and rescue teams across the country.”

Lowland Search Dogs is a non-profit, voluntary organisation formed in November 2002. It was set up to bring together regional Search and Rescue Dog Units and to create and oversee standards for non-mountainous search dogs in the UK. They are available free of charge, 24/7.

One of the greatest benefits of Lowland Search Dogs is the ability to call upon a large national resource at short notice. For example, if a young child goes missing, the local dog unit can immediately call for the services of all the other teams – increasing the professional search resources available to the police.

Augmentra is the Cambridge-based angel funded software development company behind ViewRanger.

The App runs on a massive range of smartphones and devices that use the Apple iOS (iPhone/iPad), Android, or Symbian OS and works virtually anywhere in the world using web-based mapping, which can be cached for off-line use.

It can also be upgraded to run premium topographic map data like Ordnance Survey maps in Great Britain, for a growing number of countries, including Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, parts of Italy, Norway, New Zealand, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and the US.

ViewRanger is also a GPS-enabled content publishing platform that allows Guidebook & Route owners, like The AA, Walking World, Cumbria Tourism and Cordee to deliver their content directly to a user’s smartphone.

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