Using a tracker in a hostile environment? Why you still need to make sure you have analogue support as well.

Author: Matt Timblin

Publication Date: November 4, 2016


The use of trackers – particularly ones that sit as mobile applications – has grown over the last few years. From everyday apps like “Find Friends”, through ones offered at a more commercial level, integrated organizationally or by individuals such as Vismo and then a whole host of other options in between.

trackingThere was a time that such technology was little used by individuals traveling to high risk environments and was the preserve of the bigger organizations; but times have changed and these applications have become accessible to pretty much anyone with a smartphone. The trouble is that with this accessibility often comes reliance and misplaced confidence. More and more I hear people tell me that they are using a tracker with panic alarm as the mainstay of their risk management strategy but, when you delve a little deeper, things are often amiss.

A tracker and panic alarm might alert someone to the fact that you are in trouble and where you are…but it is the human response that will determine how that information is leveraged.

This is particularly true of what I will call the “lone” user who subscribes to one of the many potential offerings in this field. They are confident that, if things go wrong, they can press the button and raise the alarm. Unfortunately, what seldom seems to accompany this is the “and then what”? If you are going to use a tracking device and panic alarm, it is probably worth considering the following few questions;

  • Will it work?? Most smartphone applications rely on mobile data – is there coverage and do you have enough credit to sustain its use.
  • Do you have a back-up plan? Have you agreed a comms / check in schedule with anyone?
  • Who is alerted at the other end when the alarm goes off? Do they know they are the emergency response?
  • What do you want them to do if they receive the alarm? Have you briefed them on this?
  • Do they have contact numbers for people you are with and who they should call first?

Technology is great and its continuous evolution provides new and innovative ways to help manage and respond to threats. It should never be used on its own though and needs to have resiliency built in by way of a robust plan – this is never truer than when working in high risk environments.

However good our digital solutions are, they still need an ‘analogue’ human accompaniment for maximum effectiveness.

A tracker and panic alarm is only the initial trigger. What comes next and how effective the response will be depends, in large part, on what answers you have for the questions posed above.