New Zealand search and rescue teams say a new travel-planning website could save lives. a Christchurch IT firm developed a site which enables travellers to enter travel plans and then sign off when they return.
If they do not sign off before their scheduled return date, www.sendansos.com automatically sends text messages to friends and relatives, detailing when and where the people were supposed to be.
The service is linked to cellphone service providers worldwide so friends and relatives can be contacted wherever they are.
Rescue Co-ordination Centre spokeswoman Heidi Brook said the technology was a great tool for all travellers. “It’s really important people tell people when and where they are going ... there have been a lot of cases of people dying because they haven’t done that.”
Netrix manager and creator of the site Trevor Knopp said the idea came from an accident he had this year. “I was on a biking trip on a Central Otago rail trail and I canned off my bike - I tried to call someone but I wasn’t in cellphone range.”
Knopp managed to return home, and heard news about the people missing after the Boxing Day Asian tsunami. “I realised that people didn’t know where their loved ones were in the Tsunami zone - or where they had planned to be.”
Interest had been high, with several thousand hits on the website since its launch at the weekend.
“What I have done is for when cellphones can’t be used,” Knopp said.
Sergeant Peter Summerfield, police search and rescue co-ordinator, said any new technology to assist in the search for missing people was welcome.
“The earliest notification you can get will always make things easier,” Summerfield said.
Police in Canterbury deal with 80 to 90 full-scale searches each year. Nationally, police receive about 12,000 reports of missing people each year.
Summerfield hoped this would help save lives and prevent people from worrying about their loved ones.
Knopp said the www.sendansos.com service should be useful for trampers, divers, people away for just a day, and even those heading overseas for months.