Eduardo’s comment is already in the wild but I thought I’d post it for all to see. Eduardo Jezierski is Director of Engineering over at InSTEDD, a Google.org funded initiative. He’s got some great lessons learned for those of you that are on your way to pick up a SPOT unit. He also praises the integration with Yahoo’s Fire Eagle that Evan told us about. Eduardo writes:
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!
If you want to read more about what Eduardo and his team are up to please be sure to check out his blog. And, don’t forget that SPOT is giving out Fire Eagle invites for those of you that need them!
Mike Kirkwood over at Polka.com is our hero of the day. Mike responded to the request I posted yesterday asking for iPhone developers for a worthwhile SMS GeoChat App that InSTEDD is working on. I owe him a big thanks for stepping up to the plate. We’ll be sure to let you know what these folks come up with but in the mean time why not head over to the iTune’s App Store and check out his Emergency Card App?
Thanks again, Mike!
Eduardo Jezierski over at InSTEDD is looking for a developer to help build an SMS GeoChat iPhone App. It seems that SMS GeoChat has begun to draw some attention even though it is pre-Beta. For those of you interested in volunteering your time (that’s right, volunteering) please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a fairly cool app that they are working on and I am proud to say I had a little hand in some of the design aspects. I am most excited about the fact that aid workers will now be able to send their coordinates from a Thuraya via SMS to a group of email addresses and the recipients will be able to view the sender’s location in Google Earth, Google Maps, Live Earth, etc.
I watched a great presentation at Where 2.0 by Jesse Robbins and Mikel Maron about disaster tech. Jesse is a champion of what works and what doesn’t and is part of the team over at O’Reilly Radar. I first had the pleasure of meeting Jesse after watching him dismantle a well meaning (but totally off-base) individual at a local disaster tech conference some time ago. Mikel just spent some months working his way across India all the while working with locals to develop OpenStreetMap.org. I have to give it up to Jesse for introducing me to Eduardo Jezierski over at InSTEDD during my quest for a ‘Twitter for Thuraya‘ app. Eduardo and I spent several days hunkered over a desk, building out their SMS GeoChat platform at Where 2.0. I am hopeful that you’ll soon see a Beta product for field workers. If it wasn’t for Jesse and Mikel keeping the fire alive the mainstream tech world would probably let disaster tech drift away in the current.
Paul Currion is another straight shooter who continues to deliver reality to all of those starry eyed folks who believe laptops and Web 2.O are going to save the world. For a dose of this reality be sure to jump over to humanitarian.info.
p.s. – I’ll have the Cradlepoint MBR1000 review up in the next couple of days.
I just wanted to let you all know that we are working hard on building out InSTEDD’s GeoChat platform to bring you a viable Twitter-like solution for sat phone users. I was introduced to Eduardo Jezierski and Daniel Cazzulino of InSTEDD through Evan, Mikel, Schuyler and Jesse (Many thanks to you all!) on Wednesday and since that time we have been working steadily to create a tool that will allow any Thuraya user to send their GPS coordinates via SMS and have it arrive as attachment in a designated recipient’s inbox. Daniel and Eduardo have been doing an amazing job and within 24hrs they had the server end up and running. As soon as we have something viable I will be sure to let you all know.
In the mean time check out http://www.teddster.org/ to get a taste of things to come.