No sunshine in the Arizon desert!

Had a great trip to Phoenix, Arizona last week. The weather was terrible, the worst for 40 years. We had a whole years rainfall in 2 days and 6 feet of snow up the road in Flagstaff. This is not what you expect from the desert! The reason for the trip was 2 fold. Firstly, it was to attend the Iridium Worldwide Partner Conference. AWS is an Iridium Value Added Developer. We have been involved with Iridium for a number of years and worked with them on a number of applications in the location based services space.

On Friday, Iridium hosted the inaugural meeting of the ProTECTS Alliance. ProTECTS (Promotion of Two-way Emergency Communication and Tracking Systems) was founded in September 2009 to advocate the rapid and orderly adoption of standards for duplex satellite based location, tracking and messaging technologies, with a focus on the challenges faced by first responder and search-and-rescue (SAR) communities. More than 20 companies were in attendance, from as far afield as New Zealand, the UK and South America.
 
The initial presentation was made by Chris Hoffman, RTCM Board of Directors and Chairman of the RTCM SENDS (Satellite Emergency Notification Devices) Committee. This committee is charged with defining the operational requirements of future devices. This was followed by a presentation from Lieutenant Commander Kathy Niles, SARSAT Liaison Officer, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters.  Kathy explained the challenges they face in dealing with a multiplicity of alerts from a wide variety of sources and how the use of two-way satellite devices could significantly reduce false alerts and provide additional and relevant information for the SAR community.
 
The presentations were followed by an open forum to discuss the next steps in the formulation of standards.
 
It is clear to me that more work needs to be done to identify the requirements of the SAR community. The recent emergence of low cost satellite communication devices will inevitably mean more SAR alerts, with many more being false alerts. With the constant demand on resources, establishing protocols and standards for these devices will help to reduce the burden on the already over-stretched services. This is a great opportunity for companies such as AWS to provide a framework for the collaborative development of industry standards and ensure interoperability with first responders and SAR authorities.

It was great to catch up with the Iridium guys and meet some new friends.

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