Not an alternative to emergency beacons or VHF radio
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar today welcomed the news that the Irish Coast Guard is developing a new iPhone App with the potential to save lives at sea. The App which has already been 3-4 months in development has now commenced live trials and a cross-section of people across Ireland are testing it.
The test group includes sailors, divers, fishermen, powerboat users and pleasure-craft water users from every corner of Ireland. The group are being asked to test the App in a variety of situations, including diverse weather conditions and their feedback and experience will be invaluable to the development of the final App. While the App will initially be for iPhone users, it will also be extended to other smartphones depending on the uptake. All going well, the new App could come into use before the end of 2012 or early 2013.
Speaking today, Director of the Irish Coast Guard Chris Reynolds said: “It’s been a busy few weeks for the Coast Guard as it is every summer and there has been a range of high profile incidents on our seas, on our coastline, inland and so on. This new iPhone App being developed is the first of its kind anywhere in the world. Its purpose is to further encourage anyone going out to sea whether it is professionally or for leisure or sport to let the Coast Guard know in advance. Getting to casualties early is the key for our search and rescue Units. This new App has the potential to get our resources on-scene as quickly as possible which will in turn save lives.”
He continued: “The new App is very easy to use and is being extensively tested at present. It requires you to input some details before heading out on the water and it will track your movement and trigger an alert if you have not returned as expected. Our experience shows that even wearing a life jacket, your life may be at risk if you are in the water for prolonged periods, in dangerous currents or poor weather conditions.”
Mr. Reynolds was speaking today as the Irish Coast Guard handed over the chair of the European Coast Guard Forum to Greece. He concluded: Coast Guards from Malta, the UK, Sweden and Portugal see the value of using this innovative technology and have expressed an interest in developing similar systems for their jurisdictions. Around the world, experience shows that getting to casualties early is the key for search and rescue units. While we are trialling this new technology, remember that it is not being developed as an alternative to VHF radio or emergency beacons. As we come towards the end of a busy summer period, I want to remind everyone again, of the very important water safety message:
· Before going to sea check local weather conditions and tides in the area.
· Wear correctly maintained and fitting lifejackets that are suitable for the activity. Lifejackets are of no use unless they are worn.
· Ensure your craft is fit for purpose.
· Always advise someone as to where you are going and the time of your intended return.
· Do not overload the craft.
If you do see someone in difficulty in the sea, on the shore, cliffs, lakes or rivers dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.”
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport Press Office. Tel: (01) 604 1087 / (01) 604 1090.
Notes for Editors:
The new App is being developed by the Irish Coast Guard in conjunction with DeCare Systems, a Cork-based company.
Depending on the results of the trials, it is expected that the App will be available before the end of 2012 or early 2013. It will be available for a small fee (yet to be determined) when it is ready for full release.