Your Smartphone as a Search and Rescue Beacon?


Chances are the following situations could happen at any given moment. A friend of yours is stuck in the middle of a hurricane in Florida, a boy scout troop is lost in the woods, a twelve-year-old child is kidnapped but has a phone in their backpack with them, or your wheelchair-bound great-grandmother is in the path of a tornado evacuation. I’m sure you’d appreciate a positive news story that so-and-so made it out at the last moment and survived or that a kidnapped child was found.

What you didn’t probably didn’t know is the life-changing app working behind the scenes that saved them. Now I know what you’re going to say, “Well that’s great and all, but a smartphone needs a signal and cell towers to work.” This app works without them, an achievement the developers are proud to announce.


Introducing iRescue, a rescue beacon or a search and rescue device smartphone app, coming to Google Play, Apple App Store and Windows Marketplace in October 2014 for $0.99.

iRescue has an arrangement with FEMA to broadcast Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) through the IPAWS system. This will allow automated activation of the iRescue beacon if you are in a danger zone. Included in the app is an Amber Alert tracking system that will not only find the location but also the direction of travel when someone has been abducted, allowing for emergency response. Additionally, the Oregon Fire Chiefs Association we will be working to promote it this fall.

The part I like about this whole story is that the idea for the iRescue app came out of a FIRST® Lego League competition held in the fall of 2013. Each year has a different theme for the competition, in 2013 it was Nature’s Fury. The Rockin’ Robots, who are developing the app with the help of several outside contractors, are a group of 6 boys, a mascot, and a Lego® robot from Eccles Elementary School in Canby, Oregon. The team was tasked with coming up with an idea to help people before, during or after a natural disaster and this app was the result. They thought it was good enough that they put together a Kickstarter campaign for it. Apparently other people thought so too and they surpassed their goal in less than 24 hours! iRescue is planned to launch on Android and Apple iOS shortly after the campaign ends.

This is one app we’ll be keeping an eye on. Fingers crossed that we can get a behind the scenes look from the developers.