The purpose of school expeditions and trips is to broaden pupils’ horizons and in the instances of schemes such as Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) encourage independence and critical thinking by overcoming challenges.
Sending students out into remote parts of the country such as Dartmoor is a fantastic way to allow them to explore and work through challenges as a team but these areas also pose significant dangers if a group or individual was to get lost or injured along the way.
So how do educational providers balance this idea of independence with the need to provide a duty of care to their students?
One way is by using satellite communication and two-way radio devices that can keep pupils safe on remote trips. In the depths of areas like Dartmoor or the Highlands, even a traditional mobile phone will not be sufficient to call for help due to lack of signal.
We have many customers who have overcome these issues by equipping students with life-saving devices such as SPOT satellite trackers. Educational establishments then have the reassurance of knowing their students are able to call for help and provide their exact GPS co-ordinates if necessary.
Plus, with our short-term rental service, cost will not be a barrier to issuing students with this cutting edge technology.
There are many ways satellite trackers can be used to meet duty of care requirements – ranging from SOS response to automatic tracking of a full journey. Here at GTC we specialise in satellite trackers and are proud to offer devices manufactured by recognised and trusted brands such as Garmin and SPOT. In fact we have sold over 20,000 SPOT devices since we launched in 2008!
Both brands offer devices which transmit GPS locations back to a cloud based portal for staff to view – if staff are with the students it is therefore critical that they have internet access from their base. A shared mapping page can also be provided to parents who may want to follow the progress on certain events.
Garmin devices have the added capability of two way messaging and mapping which could be used as part of the expedition although the devices use OpenStreet rather than Ordnance Survey mapping which is something to bear in mind.
An advanced option is Everywhere Communications who have developed a unique platform using Garmin’s tried and trusted inReach hardware which allows users to send messages via satellite between devices with no need for traditional internet access. Each message is geo cached containing full GPS coordinates, you can broadcast a message to each device in the group and it also features the all-important SOS button.
Satellite trackers require airtime charges to be paid and this will be either via a monthly bill if you purchase or an itemised bill at the end of your rental.
Without the availability of mobile phone coverage two-way radios can be an excellent way for pupils to co-ordinate and communicate with each other and their leaders. With zero airtime costs they are a cost-effective option and have the important feature of being instantaneous – unlike a tracker they will not require any internet access to view the communication and a radio call cannot be ignored – your voice will be instantly be heard loud and clear to the other devices in the group.
Our standard two-way radios are manufactured by Motorola and we also offer a global satellite PTT radio manufactured by ICOM – this innovative handheld radio uses the Iridium network to create instant communication between users anywhere in the world. Motorola and ICOM devices are available purchase and hire.
Should pupils or leaders find themselves in extremely remote regions, a satellite phone is a reliable means of communication whatever the terrain or weather conditions. With hands-free options available through as-standard headsets with some of our satellite phones, these globally-reaching communications solutions are ideal for those in rugged, outdoor terrains.
Our satellite phones run off the market-leading networks Iridium, Inmarsat, and Thuraya for guaranteed global connectivity from anywhere on the planet. There are flexible airtime packages available, and some of our phones are even available to rent for those shorter-term or first-time excursions where a phone is necessary for a specific trip.
The importance of satellite communication products and services for educational establishments cannot be underestimated. From the perspective of the school, it is imperative that pupils are kept safe by having either automatic tracking or regular contact with their base.
Need a communications system for your upcoming school trip or expedition? Please get in touch, we would be happy to help you plan a cost-effective and reliable solution for your requirements.