R2B Safety App Preview
At a Glance
This looks like such a great piece of software. I’m sure many of you paddle, run, surf or cycle on your own, only to be told by wiser, more sensible folk (usually parents or partners) that you really should text or call when you’re back safely, or worse, never do it alone! The designer Stephen O’Connor runs a SUP school himself in Ireland, and saw a gap in the market place:
“I’m a paddleboarder, set up the Wicklow SUP Club here in Ireland, and always found when going for a solo paddle nobody really knew where I was, when I would be back etc. I’ve created the app to introduce a safety layer in all outdoor activities, simply give a description, time of return and an emergency contact. If you’re not back in time then we will contact your emergency contact with your last known location via SMS. No mobile signal required, as the SMS is sent from our servers and we keep a record of your activity.”
On the Water
Well with this little piece of kit downloaded on your phone, now your other half or your mum can rest easy. Obviously, myself or the designers aren’t suggesting this is a replacement for prior safety protocol, such as Buoyancy aids, leashes, hi vis clothing or such like, but this certainly adds a new dimension to your safety. The nice thing about the app is you can add a range of activities, meaning it literally can become a ‘press and go’ for a regular activity, like your favourite running route, or downwinder. The set up is super easy, and for a small subscription cost you can have a number of contacts.
Once you fail to check in, the app initiates a 5 minute timer before sending a message to your chosen contact, informing them you have failed to check in, and your phone’s last location. As the app grows and other features are added, it might be nice to be able to tweak this countdown for your personal preference, as perhaps within a marine environment, those few minutes could make all the difference. That said, if you’re as disorganised as me, it’s probably quite sensible my wife doesn’t panic everytime I forget to get my phone out the glovebox after a surf!
What I most like about this, is as well as telling your safety contacts that you have failed to check in, it also sends them a googlemaps location so they can actually pin point where you last where with your phone (perhaps a beach car park) or if you paddle with your phone, your actual location. For me, surfing and solo paddling for fitness, I really don’t like having a load of gadgetry and gimickery tracking my every move, however this app pretty much fits in with my idea of non intrusive, useful tech. When I surf, I can set my timer, chuck it in the glovebox and know that should I fail to return to my car after 2 hours (ambitious with a young family!) someone will find out, long before it’s dark and the luck of a fellow surfer notices your empty car in the car park.
For me the bottom line is it’s a free download, so, I really can’t see why you wouldn’t bother with this. I can’t imagine not using this in the future, the peace of mind from knowing someone will be told you’re missing rather than work it out when it’s too late is completely invaluable.
By Luke BolsinLuke Bolsin has been on the water all his life and taught a wide range of water sports since 2001, and is passionate about being on the water and sharing the stoke with others. He has been paddling stand up since 2008, initially as a cross trainer for no wind or flat days. However in recent years has become totally hooked on SUP for all conditions, be it down wind paddling in swells, SUP surfing, racing, or mooching on calm days around quiet coves. As well as working for SUP Tonic as our Web Editor he divides his time running his own SUP school and rental business in Cornwall, in the UK's South West, as well as being a teacher and a dad. Luke competes on a recreational level in variety of SUP events in his locality, and is part of a burgeoning paddle scene in the heart of UK's surfing region.