Some of you will be aware of recent press comment and press releases relating to HM Coastguard’s adoption of the RYA SafeTrx app, available to Android and iPhone users via their smartphones. The Safetrx app will replace the previous provisions for registering passages with the UK Coastguard under CG66.
The app, aimed at improving the safety of water users in the UK, makes use of one’s smartphone technology in the form of its GPS receiver and your data plan to fix your position and relay it to the Safetrx servers.
Coupled with a database which all users can update to include information on their vessel, log passage plans and ETAs, etc, the Safetrx app has been a success in the US and Ireland and with the RYA’s support it seems likely it will also be a success in UK waters.
In addition to the provision of registering vessel information, passage plans, ETAs and the like, the app also gives users access to information on ports, tides, weather forecasts and preferred VHF working channels around the coast. Chosen loved ones can even track your progress in real time as long as you are close enough to shore to broadcast a data signal. If you are out of range for a couple of hours, the app will save the track and broadcast an update when your phone next gets signal.
If you don’t arrive at your destination in accordance with your registered passage plan there is an escalation process which automatically begins. Safetrx describe it as so;
Escalation level 1
15 minutes before the ETA is due to expire, you will receive a notification advising you to extend or end your trip plan.
Escalation level 2
Failure to close the trip when the trip ETA expires sends you another reminder alert that the trip is now overdue and it must be either closed or extended.
Escalation level 3
15 minutes after the ETA has expired you will receive a warning notification that a SMS will be sent to your emergency contact in 15 minutes should the trip remain overdue.
Escalation level 4
30 minutes after the ETA has expired and if the trip has not been ended or extended, a SMS is sent to your emergency contact. If your emergency contact is unable to contact you, they are then advised to contact HM Coastguard.
The clear advantage to the system is that it allows the Coastguard to work with as much information as possible whilst reducing the potential for unnecessary call outs due to human error or absent mindedness.
In addition to the basic passage planning and tracking features, the app also allows end users to create their own pre-departure checklists, edit live passage plans whilst underway, as plans change and it automatically advises your registered shore contacts when a phone is losing battery and suggests they make contact with you.
It also offers other services such as ‘flagged a location’ where you have a diver down or enables you to send incident photographs / reports or distress alerts. However, usual GMDSS and AIS / EPIRB alerts are still the recommended first option for distress alerts.
Outside the US, Ireland and the UK the tracking element of the app still works, as long as you have data although European Users are not linked into regional coastguards at this time. There is, however, a European Users Group administered by the app provider and the RYA.
In order to find out more about Safetrx go to the Safetrx website. To download the app click one of the links below. Microsoft windows phones are not currently supported in the UK.