Inreach/Spot global response centre

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Inreach/Spot global response centre

Postby wildwanderer » Fri 27 Jul, 2018 5:05 pm

After reading the numerous positive reports on the two way satellite communicators I’m considering purchasing.

One aspect Im a bit unsure of is the private company that monitors and co-ordinates the initial response when a sos message is triggered. They send your distress signal, location and details to SAR services in the country where the sos was triggered.

The company is http://www.geosresponse.com

It appears they have a highly capable 27/7 emergency response centre in a secure facility in Houston Texas USA. They advise that the centre has continued to operate during hurricanes and has never missed a call. It is a tier IV datacentre which is a very significantly secured facility with redundant IT/power systems. (there is only one certified privately owned IV centre in all of Australia to provide an idea of the systems required to achieve IV certification) So the GEOs centre is obviously best in class. Which sounds great.

However the GEOS company and presumably the single response centre co-ordinates emergency response for a host of different companies and industries. Everything from University campus security, corporate security, medical alert devices and obviously outdoor 2 way communicators such as inreach etc. They handle satelite calls as well as device sos messages and also co-ordinate responces for companies/organisations during significant incidents.

So what happens if there are several major incidents globally and the centre is fully stretched.. and I happen to also be unlucky to require emergency assistance at that time? Just seems to me that having a single centre is a significant weak point to the entire system.

Of course, there is the ability with the inreach to contact friends/relatives as well via satelite sms. So you could use that to raise the alarm.. (unless it happened at night and your emergency contacts are asleep.)

There maybe (and im assuming there is) a fallback plan if the global centre becomes saturated with emergency incidents or becomes incapacitated due to a weather/hack/fire etc event. I couldn’t find any reference online though. I did notice in their terms of service that they don’t guarantee that your alert will get through/passed on. (which is fairly standard disclaimer in lawyer heavy America so not reading too much into that)

With PLBs, an activation goes to the nearest government run rescue responce centre. In Australia its the Australian Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Canberra. but there is no info on what happens if that centre becomes saturated/incapcitated either.. so maybe its just a potential limitiation we have to live with PLBs and two way communicators.. still safer than smoke signals and SOSs drawn in the sand :lol:


EDIT - Cheers to wayno for contacting the company directly. They have confirmed there is a back up responce centre in another location that will take over if anything goes pear shaped at the main centre. More details - viewtopic.php?f=21&t=28222#p355666
Last edited by wildwanderer on Fri 03 Aug, 2018 3:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre - weak point?

Postby Gadgetgeek » Fri 27 Jul, 2018 6:16 pm

I think, and should confirm that the inreach and SPOT SOS also send to your local contacts, so should they be watching the world burn when the call comes through, they could also pass on the information, since it is not relying on the people, just the gear. Nothing is ever perfect, a big CME could render it all a bunch of scrap while you are out walking. Its a risk you have to weigh.
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre - weak point?

Postby ribuck » Sat 28 Jul, 2018 2:25 am

If there is a mass disaster, the communication centre staying online won't really help you. There will be no spare helicopters, no ambulances, no hospital beds, no anti-venom, etc.

An InReach or a PLB can only be considered a useful rescue device in "normal" times.
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre - weak point?

Postby wildwanderer » Sat 28 Jul, 2018 9:43 am

ribuck wrote:If there is a mass disaster, the communication centre staying online won't really help you. There will be no spare helicopters, no ambulances, no hospital beds, no anti-venom, etc.

An InReach or a PLB can only be considered a useful rescue device in "normal" times.


I agree. Though single response centre for the entire globe is I feel a disadvantage of the two way messengers (inreach/spot).

If there is a major earthquake in LA, the response centre could be saturated. If I need rescuing in the NSW Alps at the same time is there a chance my message may not get through to SAR resources in Australian in a timely fashion? There are plenty of SAR resources (in OZ) available but its the intial emergency communication resource (to the SAR resources) that is stretched With a PLB the emergency message goes directly to SAR resources in Australia.

However PLBs have the disadvantage that you don’t know if your signal has gotten through and when help is coming. Whereas with the two way messengers, the global response centre will reply to you and assumedly tell you the eta of the rescue response.

So I can see pros and cons for both.
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre - weak point?

Postby photohiker » Sat 28 Jul, 2018 10:05 am

Sure, if the US InReach centre is blocked out by a local disaster, then the info maybe wouldn't be quickly sent to Canberra. (not sure that is an actual problem, but lets assume it is for the conversation)

That doesn't stop the info sent to your friends back home who would receive the info, able to reply and connect with local emergency info with whatever is needed.

PLB is good, but only connects to only one place. If that place is busy just like the idea of the LA earthquake, then there would be no fast connection to anyone else.
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre - weak point?

Postby Lamont » Sat 28 Jul, 2018 12:01 pm

And photohikers and ribucks reasons above are mine and why I bought the SE. My daughters (with each preset/message receive both an email/map/link and an SMS) will be contacted and have a "procedure" to follow i.e call the cops and ask questions.
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre - weak point?

Postby GPSGuided » Sat 28 Jul, 2018 12:10 pm

Hence for the OC brigade, buy and carry both. At the end of the day, they are differentiated product.
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre - weak point?

Postby wayno » Sat 28 Jul, 2018 2:37 pm

any technology company of that size will have a disaster recovery failover center in another city in another geographic area. It's standard practice in any technology company.. given what its responsible for they have to have one.
they list two contact phone no's that are completely different indicating that they have at least two centers in different regions.
they will be duplicating their IT data in multiple locations. in a decent company, you could wipe out the head office and there would be minimal data loss and they would be able to continue their services elsewhere at another office with the infrastructure available to duplicate their services at short notice..
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre - weak point?

Postby GPSGuided » Sat 28 Jul, 2018 6:49 pm

Q: I understand that with the use of PLB etc, there’s no contracted obligation to provide the rescue to the individual. But it just so happens that most government emergency departments are capable. Correct?
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre - weak point?

Postby wayno » Sat 28 Jul, 2018 7:01 pm

GPSGuided wrote:Q: I understand that with the use of PLB etc, there’s no contracted obligation to provide the rescue to the individual. But it just so happens that most government emergency departments are capable. Correct?


first world countries yes... but you may be asked to pay the full bill in some of those countries.
it varies with other countries, they may not even come if money isn't paid up front by a third party... and you may be reliant on finding a private company to rescue you or have insurance that organises a private rescue for you..
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre - weak point?

Postby wayno » Tue 31 Jul, 2018 4:16 am

I emailed GEOSresponse about their backup systems
this is their response

The GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC) is located on the Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity campus of the Houston Bunker, formerly the Westland Building. At this location we have the following redundancies in place, and have for the pas 10 years with zero downtime, even during Hurricane Ike and most recently Hurricane Harvey.

Six (6) redundant fiber optic cables to the bunker
Battery/UPS/Generator Backup for all services located here. There are currently six (6) large generators on site in the power distribution room
Two (2) redundant power grids (East Coast and Texas Electrical Grids) protect us from a disruption on either major US power grid
All work stations in the IERCC are backed up by multi-hour UPS systems
Redundant voice communications: VoIP, Cellular and Satellite

Our core critical systems are hosted in the cloud on Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure cloud services platform. Each of these cloud services is operated in separate availability zones so no single geographical incident can impact our operations.

If something catastrophic were to impact operations at the IERCC’s physical location, we have a backup nearby and also a remote center in Dallas, TX with personnel and duplicate set of tools we utilize.

We also have all of our tools and platforms mirrored on web-based workstation images, so if required our personnel can function from anywhere on the globe where they can get connectivity
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre - weak point?

Postby drakkar » Tue 31 Jul, 2018 7:13 am

wayno wrote:
Our core critical systems are hosted in the cloud on Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure cloud services platform. Each of these cloud services is operated in separate availability zones so no single geographical incident can impact our operations.

If something catastrophic were to impact operations at the IERCC’s physical location, we have a backup nearby and also a remote center in Dallas, TX with personnel and duplicate set of tools we utilize.

We also have all of our tools and platforms mirrored on web-based workstation images, so if required our personnel can function from anywhere on the globe where they can get connectivity


I've removed the sales guff.
Bold is whats critical
italics is only applicable if they have the correct process surrounding it.
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre - weak point?

Postby GPSGuided » Tue 31 Jul, 2018 7:19 am

This latest reminded me that there’s been talk of implementing text services on the COSPAS network. Anyone know where they are up to there?
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre - weak point?

Postby wayno » Tue 31 Jul, 2018 7:36 am

Standard practice is to practice using the backup centers and infrastructure, to make sure it's functioning as intended.. it also gets automatically monitored for any system failures, similar to their primary systems.
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre - weak point?

Postby photohiker » Tue 31 Jul, 2018 7:40 am

Does any of us know how well the Canberra system is compared to the InReach backup system?
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre - weak point?

Postby wildwanderer » Tue 31 Jul, 2018 2:12 pm

drakkar wrote:
wayno wrote:
Our core critical systems are hosted in the cloud on Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure cloud services platform. Each of these cloud services is operated in separate availability zones so no single geographical incident can impact our operations.

If something catastrophic were to impact operations at the IERCC’s physical location, we have a backup nearby and also a remote center in Dallas, TX with personnel and duplicate set of tools we utilize.

We also have all of our tools and platforms mirrored on web-based workstation images, so if required our personnel can function from anywhere on the globe where they can get connectivity


I've removed the sales guff.
Bold is whats critical
italics is only applicable if they have the correct process surrounding it.


Cheers for doing that investigation wayno. Given me much greater confidence to consider swaping from PLB to Inreach.
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre - weak point?

Postby wildwanderer » Tue 31 Jul, 2018 2:24 pm

photohiker wrote:Does any of us know how well the Canberra system is compared to the InReach backup system?

Its a government 2/7 response centre and complemented by ADF and state 24hr response centres. My understanding that a PLB alert goes from satelite to one of three AU ground stations, which then relay to the canberra response centre who then tasks AU SAR resources.

I don’t know for sure but im assuming that if something happens to a ground station or a response centre then the alert and tasking can be rerouted to another response centre. But it’s my theory only, I don’t have a definitive source saying this is what would happen if the response centre was unable to receive or service the PLB alert. Its also part of the COSPAS-SARSAT global system of satelites, ground stations and responce centres so one would assume there is provision for other centres around the world to take over if one centre was saturated or disabled

Linked is the government search and rescue manual which outlines the standard operating procedures for all govt agencies when a SAR operation is initiated. Its a 500 page document and shows how all the agencies and depts work together. https://natsar.amsa.gov.au/natsar-manual.asp
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre - weak point?

Postby RonK » Tue 31 Jul, 2018 4:33 pm

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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre - weak point?

Postby wayno » Wed 01 Aug, 2018 10:50 am



well thats that then, if so many people who buy inreaches need rescuing then its obviously a risky device to own... :mrgreen:
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre

Postby wildwanderer » Fri 03 Aug, 2018 3:09 pm

Looks like the GEOS centre was involved in the current NZ rescue thats in the news. Apparently the person concerned was carrying a very old device he borrowed off a mate. Article says it had trouble pinpointing the postion. I wonder what the old device was?

https://www.smh.com.au/world/oceania/au ... 4zvc6.html
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre

Postby wayno » Fri 03 Aug, 2018 3:29 pm

ther are a lot of massive rock faces there that can bounce the signal around giving an incorrect location especially if it doesnt have line of sight to th satellites available., he was right next to one of those rock faces.
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Postby wayno » Sat 04 Aug, 2018 6:28 am

wrong thread
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre

Postby wildwanderer » Tue 11 Sep, 2018 12:18 pm

wayno wrote:ther are a lot of massive rock faces there that can bounce the signal around giving an incorrect location especially if it doesnt have line of sight to th satellites available., he was right next to one of those rock faces.


I recently learned that the inreach/spot devices currently lack the homing beacon that PLBs have. PLBs have a 121.5 MHz homing signal that search aircraft use in the final phase of the search.
When a PLB (or two way communcator) is activated in an emergency the satellite link provides the gps location of the beacon and the search aircraft goes to that location. For a PLB the search aircraft uses the PLB homing signal to pinpoint the exact location. (in forests or around cliffs the GPS provided location will sometimes only give a large radius for potential position)

Its something to keep in mind. However Ive still come around to the view (that despite this negative) the benefits of the two way communicators make them a superior solution to a PLB.

I’m going to pick one up when my finances catch up to my need to buy gear list! :)
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre

Postby wayno » Tue 11 Sep, 2018 12:23 pm

the homing beacon signal gets bounced around as well. its not accurate, its a crude signal that only tells searchers the direction to the signal, it doesnt give a gps location or distance to the signal, pilots sometimes have to look around a bit to work out where the beacon really is...
the inreach will send out a gps location that can be worked out on a map.
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre

Postby wildwanderer » Tue 11 Sep, 2018 12:52 pm

Thanks for the info.

So the homing signal doesn't provide a faster rescue responce benefit?

Compared to GPS only.
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre

Postby wayno » Tue 11 Sep, 2018 12:59 pm

it varies,,, land search parties walk around with a hand antenna and a headset that beeps more if they are pointing in the right direction.... in the helicopter teres a basic indicator with a ring lof lights , one light is on in the direction where the signal comes from, if the signal isnt bouncing around it can take them right to the beacon, if it is bouncing around then theres a bit of a wild goose chase...
its an easy system to use when you're on the go.
as i mentioned if you're in an area with large angled rock faces then the signal may bounce around. if it takes you to the wrong location, look at the nearest major rock face hten do a sweep in the opposite direction to look for the beacon. experienced SAR people can usually work out whats going on.
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Re: Inreach/Spot global response centre

Postby Warin » Tue 11 Sep, 2018 1:15 pm

A PLB without a GPS is located by the satellites in a broad area .. say 5 km square. this uses the 406 signal.

All commercial aircraft (and RFDS aircraft) monitor 121.5 .. and they see the signal strength .. as they come to the maximum signal strength they can report their location and that can then get used to help locate the PLB.
Dedicated rescue aircraft can use the same equipment for a fly around and locate the maximum signal strength .. that should then give them a very small search area.

The GPS facility narrows the initial search down considerably. From that 5 km to some 50 meters or less.

All of these (both GPS and 121.5) are corrupted by local radio wave reflections and covers. The GPS is probably better because there are more than one transmitter and direction (those satellites) used to determine the location.

Note: the same system as 121.5 is used to track animals, though on a different frequency. With experience it is quite effective to find the object being looked for.
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