School puts Bluetrack to the test
Oulder Hill School, Rochdale, Lancashire
Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh Expedition June / July 2014.
7 Groups (59 students) out in the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales.
After a short online tutorial from Bluetrack, the trackers were extremely easy to set up. Having received seven devices we were able to set each one with its own unique name and coloured icon. This made it very easy to identify which group we were looking at on our mobile device as we had all our groups out at the same time and roughly in the same area. We found that the battery life was excellent especially compared to other devices. The battery lasted well beyond our expedition and expectation, only receiving low battery alerts after around 7 days. They continued to work beyond the alerts for several more days. The website is very easy and simple to navigate around and is extremely user friendly enabling us to set our parameters before setting off on expedition. The mobile site is also very easy to use both on android and i devices.
The accuracy of each device was spot on, we could pin point a group to within a few meters, giving us peace of mind and enabling us to be proactive and not reactive when it comes to the safety of our groups. We were able to see if they have taken the wrong route and if heading for an area that may be deemed unsafe, ie: fast main roads, then we were able to get to them quickly and put them back on their route.
During our D of E Bronze Expedition, we had one group who we tracked out of Castleton and along Limestone Way. We had a member of staff at a checkpoint at Oxlow House just at the top of Winnats Pass. We continued to track the group at various intervals who were at this stage on schedule. We last checked on them 1 ½ km from the checkpoint. Somehow they managed to take the wrong path and started to head back towards Castleton. When we were alerted that the group had not arrived at the checkpoint, we then used the tracker to locate them. They had already made it back to Castleton and were on some back streets out of view from the main roads. The tracker gave us their exact position in real time and being able to switch from satellite view to street view, a very useful tool, enabled us to navigate around the streets to locate them. I can categorically say that without the aid of the tracker we would not have been able to find them in such a short space of time. Had we had to start searching for them, we would not have been looking back into Castleton, we would have spent a great deal of time searching on foot in where we thought they would have been.
We particularly liked the panic button (SOS) feature. When depressed, we received a text alert from the device. We were then able to locate the group quickly and deal with the situation immediately. Another feature that we particularly like is the ability to see all of our groups at once on the screen. This enables us to man checkpoints more accurately. Knowing how many groups are heading to any one checkpoint at any one time is invaluable.
The only negative point we could make is that you need a really good 3G signal for total precision. The trackers did work well even with a poor 3G signal but we found that it only gave a general location instead of pin point accuracy. The screen did centralize on where the group was but failed to show the icon. However, when we are in the middle of nowhere, a general location is a good start in trying to find groups. On the positive side, it may mean that someone has to sit in a café with free wifi all day!!
To sum up, we found the Prime Lite to be an excellent performer and we are looking forward to using them on all our future Duke of Edinburgh expeditions.