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When your cellphone has coverage...

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Re: When your cellphone has coverage...

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:57 am

Given the heavy use of Bay Area trails by the general public, I think it would be smarter to put some accurate signs up and produce good maps than to just continue to rescue lost hikers. I agree that lots of the trails are really poorly marked. I once had to do a 5-mile detour/backtrack at Point Reys because the trail shown on the map suddenly ended. But signs are really better for the typical urban hiker. A LOT of people cannot read a map no matter how accurate they are.

Going off-trail on the coast or in the Coast Range generally gets you into deep doo-doo quickly. I am mystified as to why these two kids decided to go off the roads.

On the American River bike path, they have put up maps with the pointer that says "you are here" and then shows several miles up and downstream. Prisoners make license plates, maybe they should also make trail signs?



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Re: When your cellphone has coverage...

Postby balzaccom » Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:28 pm

Good points, Daisy. And I, too, wonder why they went off trail. But that area is pretty remote and confusing. We once hiked part of this trail...there were plenty of spots where it simply wasn't clear where we should be going. My favorite was a large gate that went across one road. Once we got over the gate, we noticed a sign on the back side that said:

"If you can read this sign, you are on the wrong side of the gate."

No exactly helpful trip information..
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Re: When your cellphone has coverage...

Postby Jimr » Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:14 pm

Scouter9 wrote:Of course, based on where they were lost, I imagine at somepoint, "hide the bong!" came into play. :smirk:


:retard:
What?!
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Re: When your cellphone has coverage...

Postby gdurkee » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:56 pm

Of course, the newer smartphones have an actual GPS chip so coordinates don't depend on tower triangulation -- which have large errors inherent in the results. However, the reporting person has to know to set their phone to that default if it's not set to actual gps. You can also be directed (by dispatch) to download the Google mapping app which will give coordinates. Finally, there's a very cool app SAR teams in the UK are using where you just enter the URL of their site and your coordinates are captured then available to a responding SAR team.

The bad news is few e911 dispatchers or SAR teams are aware of these capabilities.

One more geeky solution is to have the person take a picture of the area they're in and send it to dispatch. On most modern smartphones, the coordinates are embedded in the photo and you also have a photo taken from their location.

Last, the decision to have them stay there seems to me to be correct. You don't want people who are already lost stumbling around in the dark or, really, even waiting until morning. If the risk is low, sending a team for them is the way to go.

Oh wait: last, last. There is also a gizmo that's only in the possession of Homeland Security and FBI etc. that can detect individual pings of cell phones without going through the towers. It was used successfully on at least one SAR last year Again, not well known even in the SAR community.

g.
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Re: When your cellphone has coverage...

Postby SandStorm » Mon Nov 19, 2012 9:37 pm

Are you talking about Triggerfish, G? (No, that's not slang I'm asking Mr. Durkee.)
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Re: When your cellphone has coverage...

Postby gdurkee » Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:32 pm

Are you talking about Triggerfish, G? (No, that's not slang I'm asking Mr. Durkee.)


Is Triggerfish the same as the Stingray? I've only heard about this puppy 2nd hand. Do you know anything about it? I'm actually going to soon try to put together a series of webinars on tech useful for SAR (cell phones, radar etc). Need to find out more about it.

thanks,

g.
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Re: When your cellphone has coverage...

Postby rlown » Mon Dec 31, 2012 2:17 pm

any chance this forum would have access to the webinar material when complete? Hope there's some caveats in that like your cell phone has to be working/charged/on. GPS sucks the power right out of a cell phone and most shut down their phones to save power. Not to mention when out of coverage.

Your base assumption is that the person can touch their phone. It's an ok assumption as long as it's stated. Some might not be able to do that.
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Re: When your cellphone has coverage...

Postby ERIC » Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:51 pm

rlown wrote:And this is "beyond the Sierra."


Yes. Please try to be a little more careful where topics are posted. I've had to move quite a few threads recently, several of which were yours, balzaccom. Not everything belongs in the Backpacking / Hiking / Camping forum. :p

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Re: When your cellphone has coverage...

Postby SandStorm » Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:44 pm

George,

Apologies for the delayed reply. This is extremely interesting, and I might add controversial, technology. From what I understand, Triggerfish and StingRay are very similar devices. In essence, they have the ability to mimic a cell tower and perform various functions from "pinging" a cell phone's location in order to triangulate it to collecting various numbers associated with it, such as serial numbers and (I believe) numbers of other phones it interacts with. There are other devices which operate much the same way (and I suspect vary only in degrees of speciality in certain key functions) such as StingRay II, AmberJack, KingFish and LoggerHead. They are all manufactured by an entity called Harris Corp, based in Florida. Apparently little public information is available on this stuff. DOJ and the military are understandably playing this pretty close to the chest.

There's a couple good articles on the WSJ site and the usual smattering around the Googleverse.

Hope this helps.
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Re: When your cellphone has coverage...

Postby gdurkee » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:35 pm

SandStorm:

Thanks. That's what I thought. I'd read one WSJ article when I started researching the possibility during the search for Larry. Unfortunately, the battery on his phone was very likely dead by the time I was able to suggest it to Incident Command. FBI in San Francisco apparently has one.

I've got the contact with Harris corp. and was thinking of contacting them. SAR people don't need the full specs, only how the devices might be used to more accurately find a phone absent a tower. The downed plane in Yosemite two weeks ago is another example where such an ability might have been useful (as well as Larry two months ago and the couple stranded off Highway 88 a few weeks back). Depending on its capabilities and availability, it could be extremely useful for SARs in areas without cell towers but where the missing person might be carrying a phone that's turned on. Do you work in that industry??

Which is all to say I'm hopeful they could talk about the non-classified stuff. Also, all SAR teams are associated with Sheriff's departments, so maybe the request could be made through law enforcement.

So if I can get any of this to happen, we'll record the webinar and will make it available to anyone.

thanks,

g.
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Re: When your cellphone has coverage...

Postby SweetSierra » Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:24 pm

I've hiked the Oat Hill Mine Road a few times, once from the Mt. St. Helena area. If you are hiking up the road from Calistoga and back, it's straightforward. But, if you go up as high as the Pallisades and wander around on a use trail and not pay attention, you could get disoriented. From St. Helena, it would be easy to get off the route if you don't know it well and are an inexperienced hiker. On both sides of the Oat Hill Mine Road from the trailhead in Calistoga (such as it is. It's not marked), it's private property. That's probably why you encountered that strange sign, Balzaccom. It's a beautiful hike though, past wagon ruts in the road from the late 1800s.
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Re: When your cellphone has coverage...

Postby gdurkee » Sat Jan 12, 2013 5:52 pm

More on the Stingray cell phone gizmo:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense ... phone.html

I called Harris Corp. to talk to a rep about the non-classified stuff. Haven't heard back yet but I'll keep folks updated (though maybe of limited interest...).

g.
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