Just before Where 2.0 I had a substantive rant blog post against SPOT, mostly for locking in the information (unless you are into parsing emails which is where hoped not to go), and a plea to go the fireeagle route…then Myanmar happened and blogging about other things screeched to a halt.
I am very glad that SPOT is doing this! We have POC code integrating FireEagle with geochat -so we benefit the more providers FE has.
Some warnings wrt the SPOT tracker however:
1) Make sure you take it to places within the coverage region. Zimbabwe, for example, isn’t. I found while I was there (my bad). So are chunks of South East Asia where I spend a lot of time. I’d like to see SPOT devices on other sat systems too!
2) Make sure you understand the ‘user interface’ which is minimal (not minimalistic) Do you know what blink-double-blink-blink means?
3) If you sign up for their evac insurance make sure it’s set up correctly. You only get one shot at it during tracker setup, if you fall outside that and want to do it after activation you are stuck with a much larger (but still reasonable) fee. I got the device very early and their support informed me I fell of the bandwagon and would have to deal with the insurance company directly.
All in all, I think the SPOT is a ‘very V1’ product with a lot of promise showing connectedness and location in the same device. Improved hardware design, and more openess in the management of the data seem to be on track!
Remember SPOT from a few posts back? Well, the corporate blog posted our post so we are going to return the favor and let y’all know that SPOT now boasts Fire Eagle support. “To enable SPOT GPS data sharing with Fire Eagle in the SPOT web service, select the Share tab and click on Fire Eagle.”
And, if you find yourself out of Fire Eagle invites, head on over to their write-up, post a comment, and they’ll send you an invite! Once you are up and running be sure to drop us a line and let us know how it is going.
rabble “Fire Eagle last spotted you 14 minutes ago at xxx NW Gxxxxx St, Portland, OR using SPOT Satellite Messenger. ” So cool. It Works 01:35 AM August 02, 2008 from web
SPOT is a personal locator tool which uses GPS to find you and then uses a satellite network to send your location to folks that are following you. The data is a available in a variety of formats (GPX, GeoRSS and KML) and can easily be sent out via email, SMS or RSS.
Yahoo’s Fire Eagle is “the secure and stylish way to share your location with sites and services online while giving you unprecedented control over your data and privacy.” If you haven’t signed up for a Beta invite yet please do so here. Evan had a hand in creating Fire Eagle as well as Twitter. You can watch him here talking about Fire Eagle at eComm 2008:
By directing Fire Eagle to route his SPOT tracks to Twitter Evan can keep his followers informed of his whereabouts at all times. Evan also said that SPOT works just fine in a backpack so there should be no line-of-sight issues.
It makes me wonder if all the climbers on K2 (that I wrote about yesterday here) were carrying SPOT’s and had them set-up so that their teammates could follow them would more of them have survived? There are so many factors to consider that there cannot be one simple answer. We do know that one person survived thanks to the fact that they could identify and send their location via their Thuraya satellite phone.
This is the type of resourcefulness that I love to hear about. While the SPOT isn’t cheap at $169.99 it is unique in it’s abilities and if you are running off to the bush, and you are in a permissive environment, you might consider throwing one in your bag. Fire Eagle and Twitter are both free to use so once you’ve paid the upfront costs you can enable your entire network of friends and associates to follow your every move.