Outfitter Satellite just finished testing the GeoPro personal tracking device based on the 9601 SBD modem.  This device is intended for tracking people, not vehicles.

We found the GeoPro easy to use. The GeoPro is a small, weatherized handheld unit that provides two-way messaging through the Iridium network.  There is a web interface that can be controlled by one or more administrators who can see the people in their team superimposed on a map.

Field users can set their status to be "in field" or "out of field”. The GeoPro's automatic position reporting only occurs when the unit is "in field"  -- which saves on usage costs. The system can be set to send position reports at constant intervals when it is in field.

Another powerful feature is the ability of the system to "check in" with the field users.  If a field user misses a check in, a reminder message is sent. If that message is not responded to the system established an emergency condition and sends an email to pre-established emergency contact(s). The web interface is designed to facilitate what people will be put into the emergency response team to go get the missing field user.

The field user can also declare his/her own emergency using a special button. This button is protected by a flap to avoid it accidentally being depressed.

Advantages relative to the Globalstar SPOT:   GeoPro allows two-way communication including free-style messages. By comparison, Globalstar's SPOT system which is simplex (only allows outbound messages from the field unit). So, the people responding to the person who has sent out an emergency message have no way to communicate with the person in the field except to personally go out to the scene  -- a very expensive process and one that often turns out to be a response to a non-emergency. GeoPro's two way communication eliminates this problem.

How long does it take to send an Emergency Message?  If the device has not previously registered a GPS fix or it has moved over 500 miles since the last GPS registration:  expect a GPS fix in about 40 seconds. The message will then transmit in 20 to 30 seconds more. These times assume a clear unobstructed view of the sky.

Battery Performance:  The battery probably will last 5-7 days if the device is powered on but no messages are sent.  That is because the device will wake up 3 times an hour to check for messages which use up the battery .  Sending one or two tracking messages per day doesn't seem to significantly reduce the battery life.