/ Expedition Kit / Tracking systems

What are tracking systems?

Tracking systems display the location of the tracker on receiving devices such as computers and mobile phones.  Therefore trackers can be used to monitor the location and progress of groups on expeditions.

However, great care must be taken to ensure that they do not compromise either the number of supervising adults or the team’s feeling of isolation and self-reliance.

Within a DofE context, GPS should be thought of as additional safety equipment, rather than as a navigation tool.

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How can I use a tracking system with my group?

A tracking device can be placed on a participant’s rucksack. This can transmit location information via the satellite network and then to secure servers and finally to receivers, such as a mobile phones or computers.

Supervisors, Assessors, Leaders, Licensed Organisations and emergency contacts can then monitor the team’s location and progress.

A complete integrated solution will provide base-control, in-field and even remote access to tracking data via a secure network.

Most systems have a ‘help’ button or some (editable) emergency phone numbers that can allow the group to call for help in the event of an emergency.

Using tracking systems can be an effective way of supporting team safety and keeping Leaders informed on groups locations.  Tracking systems are a useful safety aid and for identifying mistakes in navigation and subsequently evaluating performance and feedback to participants.  Used correctly, it is a valuable teaching aid.

DofE recommended tracking systems

The DofE recommends Mapyx, a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) company that has developed market-leading technology. The whole Mapyx range is compatible with the eDofE Mapping system and offers a comprehensive and integrated solution, which is in use with the Police, MOD and Search & Rescue Teams as well as hundreds of schools.

The Mapyx solution is now available on a ‘pay-as-you-use’ basis substantially reducing both the entry and the running costs.  You can use the solution for a little as one month to years.

Benefits of using the Mapyx tracking solution

– Tracker charges now fully flexible, reducing costs of entry and use
– Peace of mind for DofE Leaders and Assessors
– Saving on fuel due to a known location
– Remote supervision, without taking away the need for Leaders/Assessors to retain total responsibility
– Cost-effective technological solutions to aid effective management
– Already in use by existing DofE groups
– Tracking of multiple groups in multiple locations
– Compatible with the eDofE Mapping system to permit the transfer of data
– Fully comprehensive and integrated control and back-up solutions
– 24/7 back-up and emergency support

What else should you consider?

Care must be taken to work out how Supervisors and Assessors will have access to the tracking information while supporting expeditions.

Everyone involved must be trained in using the tracking device and accompanying software.

Tracking systems that rely upon mobile phone networks should not be used as reception is too unreliable in remote areas.

Correct use and reading of tracking data provides speed, location and messages, so does go some way to communicating key performance data, but regular interfaces with leaders/supervisors are still essential.

Tracking systems are not there to stop teams making mistakes, but are there to help if a situation deteriorates or if help is needed.  Tracking still allows teams to get lost and correct their navigation errors, but tracking permits the leader to know their location and provide support as necessary.

While the DofE allows DofE groups to use tracking systems to support the safety of their expedition teams, it is not a requirement, nor it is a substitute for the required emergency training and competent supervision.