SafeTRX is a mobile phone app (iOS and Android) that has been developed for maritime use.
In Australia, the Volunteer Coast Guard provides a monitoring service for the app.
Bushwalking requirements and mobile phone usage
- Mobile phones are usually not kept turned on for extended periods during bushwalks.
- Many remote bushwalking locations do not have mobile network coverage
- Simple user operation is an advantage
- The ability to send out an emergency alert is a desirable feature.
Safe TRX features
- Trip details are entered by user – there is a fee payable per trip
- The app communicates location information from phone’s GPS via its mobile data connection (when available)
- Australian Volunteer Coastguard receives trip information on their central console.
- Overdue trips are flagged for attention at the central console.
- Overdue trips can be escalated to Police SAR by Australian Volunteer Coastguard when they cannot be resolved and details of the trip forwarded
- An alert/incident notification feature(s) recently added
- SafeTRX provides a “location last seen” reported by the app when the phone last had a network connection.
Limitations and issues
- On land phone network coverage is not reliable in remote bushwalking areas – phones trying to connect can rapidly flatten the battery
- SafeTRX does shut down the app at low battery levels but the phone continues to try to maintain a signal with the network while turned on.
- Enabling the phone GPS required by SafeTRX increases phone battery usage and therefore also decreases battery operating time.
- A flat phone battery compromises the use of the phone for emergency communications via the apps and voice/SMS
- Those with a good technical knowledge will recognise limitations, but non-technical people may rely on the app without fully understanding them.
When visiting remote areas you must always leave your trip intentions with a designated safety contact. Mobile phone apps should not be used as a substitute for this process.
While BSAR and Buswalking Victoria do not endorse SafeTRX for bushwalking usage, individuals can download and use the application.