Phil Geng

Researcher, Climber, Mountaineer


Tell me about it

A quick update on my latest project this week. Still very much in the initial concept phase I'm hoping to create an intuitive and semi-automated approach to route cards of the "let someone know where you are" variety. So far the tests are proving promising and with a little more work the first round of user testing will be kicking off.

The problem I am trying to tackle is a simple one really. When we go out for whatever activity we participate in we should be telling someone where we are. Unless you have really thought about it, chances are you have only experienced how lonely and isolated the great British outdoors can be when you have been waiting for rescue to arrive. For decades people have been using route cards and close friends to let someone know where they are going and on the whole this has worked well. However, these days it seems more and more people rely on their mobile phone in case things go wrong as opposed to carrying out this vital preparation.

Personally I have never really liked route cards or indeed telling people where I was heading in any detail as I like the spontaneity of simply changing my plans as I go along. So, recently, I thought why not have a digital route card that I can adapt easily - signal pending - as the day progresses. If at any point I become overdue the system behind the route card can start alerting a set of emergency contacts, eliminating the need for one specific person to be available and should nobody be able to contact me or I don't make contact the system could even pass the information I have provided straight to the emergency services. Crucially I want this to be device agnostic, not relying on having the right android version or specific iPhone sensor - hence I've reverted back to good old text and email messaging. Simple, quick and reasonably reliable.

In principle this kind of system is easy to build, but the finer details have to be ironed out. A basic test implementation with further information is available at and if you are UK based with any interest in outdoor pursuits (even regular dog walks in the forest), then I would love you to try it out and provide me with feedback.

In the meantime enjoy the outdoors and the ever warming weather as we're slipping into spring and gradually moving into summer.

Share this post:

Categories: Outdoors

Tags: Safety, Walking, Climbing, Outdoors

Comments: No comments yet

Leave a comment