This is because of the Transport Modes of the different Responders.
Beacon will allow at least one vehicle capable of patient transport (e.g., ambulance, car, boat) to be assigned to each incident when you broadcast alerts. So, if you requested a maximum of one responder, and the first one to reply was on foot, if a car replied after, Beacon would still accept it.
This is an artifact of having originally designed Beacon exclusively for ambulance services and fire departments. In a future v5.0, it will be resolved.
In addition to the limitations above that come with texting, these kind of apps have additional problems when it comes to emergency dispatching.
For one, using third-party apps, e.g,. WhatsApp or Facebook, may make sensitive data available to non-authorized parties or inaccessible to authorized parties.
Even when secure, the real problem is scalability: a Twitter list or a WhatsApp chat group may be able to alert multiple responders to a single emergency, but dispatching the same responders to multiple incidents in different locations at the same time is far more difficult with these apps. Beacon’s dynamic allocation algorithm knows how to efficiently manage emergency first responders to get them where they need to be.
Yes, it can and it is! There is an asterisk to this claim, however — Beacon can be used by fire departments to dispatch personnel and equipment to the scene of an emergency, and it can coordinate their response efforts as they’re related to getting resources on-scene and requesting more, but Beacon does not help fire department manage fireground operations for involved structure or wildland fires. That requires radios, among other more advanced technologies.
It can and it is, but we don’t pretend that Beacon was designed for police dispatching – it wasn’t. It just happens that sometimes Beacon’s a better solution than other existing dispatching software for police. Emergency medical dispatching is different than police dispatching in the fact that persons with medical emergencies are often easily convinced to stay and wait for first responders; criminal suspects on the other hand may be more difficult to persuade. This means that police are better served by more dynamic communications than text messages, including radios. Beacon is used by law enforcement in two countries to inform officers of the location of medical emergencies, and police officers also relay incidents they hear about to local dispatchers using Beacon, but at present the platform was not intended for police to use as their first-line dispatching solution.
No – not yet, at least. Beacon can’t replace radios at the moment, but it can drastically reduce the amount of chatter that typically occurs between dispatchers and responders by eliminating the need for redundant communications about predictable steps — for example, “Are you responding?” “Are you there yet?” “Do you need more help?” “Are you transporting?” “Where to?” etc. This frees up radios to be reserved for communications outside the standard commands and reduces the risks of open-mics, drained batteries, and poor radio signals.
Not necessarily, though we definitely recommend using the mobile app version where possible. In order to keep SMS costs low for services that don’t enjoy internet messaging, there are a range of tactics that can be employed to make sure that the right number of SMS are being sent:
Only include active responders – if they aren’t participating they are a big source of waste so should be removed from distribution lists
Optimize the level of coverage in each community — Match the number of responders needed to the actual call volume in order to maintain efficient resource allocation
Introduce Beacon training at the very outset — There’s no reason why Beacon can’t be incorporated in medical training from the outset; not only does it reduce the number of errors made during regular operations, but it also helps to slow nervous and inexperienced responders down who are prone to make mistakes in high-pressure settings
In most countries, there are companies who can offer you a this SMS gateway and with a dedicated number for you to use with Beacon. You can help us get you started with Beacon as soon as possible by helping us locate an SMS Gateway. If you are familiar with the major telecom companies in your country or if you have contacts at these companies, we recommend reaching out to them to ask about an SMS Gateway. Internet searches will also help find local companies that offer gateways for use with Beacon, and this is often how we at Trek Medics find these companies ourselves.
To switch your Beacon account from DATA messages to SMS messages when you don’t have internet to connect to the app, send an SMS with 789 to your Beacon number (ask your admin if you don’t have it saved in your contacts). This will change your phone’s settings from DATA to SMS within Beacon and then resend the last Beacon message to you.
It’s possible your Responders are seeing a random map in their mobile app that’s different than your catchment area.
To make sure Responders are seeing the same map as Dispatchers are, they have to be in the same data center.
The best way to ensure this is to add your Responders to the website before they register their phones through the mobile app.
If Responders register their phones through the mobile app first, they are put in a generic Data Center, called “Registration”. The map they see in their app is coming from the Registration Data Center
To resolve this:
Please send us an email to [email protected] with the Responder’s Name and Phone Number, and the Data Center you want them registered in. Or, if you have lots of Responders with the same issue, we can also give you access to the Registration Data Center where you can find your Responders and transfer them to your own Data Center.
Yes, of course! Beacon was designed so that any person carrying a mobile phone could be dispatched to an emergency. Any vehicle will help get you to the location, and because Beacon communicates with mobile phones (and not mobile data terminals) whatever vehicle you use to transport to the hospital can be coordinated and tracked as well.
Beacon has been designed specifically for emergency dispatching in resource-limited settings, and with the flexibility to meet those challenges, however they may present. To make this possible, we designed Beacon with certain principles to ensure the most flexible, yet robust solution on the market:
Beacon can be used via SMS or a mobile app or both, making it possible to use Beacon with or without internet connectivity
Beacon can be used as a standalone dispatching system (e.g., for a rural community with no existing communications system) or it can also be used to seamlessly integrate with existing dispatching setups (e.g., CADs) in order to expand their coverage beyond official vehicles only
Beacon can be set up and disassembled in a matter of minutes for temporary or short-term deployments, or it can be installed on remote and/or local servers for permanent operations
Beacon takes just a few minutes to learn for someone with only a basic understanding of how to read and reply to text messages
Beacon can easily accommodate small response groups while also scaling to national-level emergency services with little extra reconfiguration needed
Both Android and iOS devices have a number of restrictions in place to make sure that mobile app users are only sharing their location when desired. The following criteria have to be met in order for you to see the location of other responders in your mobile app:
The responder has to give their device permission to share their location with Beacon
The responder has to set their GPS Tracking settings to “Always” or “Only during incidents” in the mobile app (watch this video or read this page to learn more)
Once those criteria have been met, then the mobile app user must have their phone turned on and the Beacon mobile app in the foreground to share their most recent location.
*Note: If you click on a responder’s icon in the sidebar of the mobile app, and it says “Location Unavailable” that happens for two reasons:
The responder is using Beacon via SMS or
The responder has not met the criteria listed above
For Web App Users
If responders comply with the criteria above, then dispatchers will be able to see the last reported location of the responder. This may or may not be the most recent location — if a responder doesn’t have the phone on, the app in the foreground and/or hasn’t changed their GPS Tracking settings to “Always” or “Only during incidents”, then the dispatcher will not be able to see the most recent location (even if they click the Ping button on the home screen map).
We’re sorry to belabor this point, but we have gotten enough complaints from users saying “The web app isn’t showing my current location”, when the reality is that they don’t understand how GPS Tracking works. Please keep in mind that Android and iOS do not allow mobile apps to track a user’s location all the time no matter what. Permissions have to be granted, the phone has to be on, the app has to be in the foreground, and the settings have to be configured correctly. (For example, if the responder allows Beacon to track their location “Only During Incidents“, and there is no active incident, then their current location will not be displayed until they are assigned to an incident and they interact with Beacon.
Similarly, if responders install the app for the first time, and they have set their GPS Tracking settings in the app to “Only During Incidents“, their location will not appear until they have been assigned to an incident and they interact with Beacon.
To resolve this, try these steps:
Tell the responder to temporarily change their GPS Tracking settings to “Always”, and then ask them to click the MyLocation button on the home screen of their app
Create a new incident and assign the responder to that incident. Once they reply to a message, Beacon will update their location (assuming they have followed all the other steps)
We wish it more straightforward but, like Push Notifications, there are restrictions placed on mobile apps by Android and iOS that require developers and users to meet certain criteria. At least in the case of GPS Tracking, this is a good thing for protecting privacy. But once you understand the criteria and educate your users, we are certain you’ll see the GPS Tracking works quite well.
There are several things that could cause Beacon to skip messages:
Technical Error: If you’re using Beacon by SMS, it might be because of the local infrastructure, for example:
The mobile phone signal was bad
Your telecom carrier refused the message (this can sometimes happen when sending messages internationally)
User Error: You may be having an issue on your end if:
Your SMS inbox is full
You don’t have credits on your phone
Your phone has two SIM cards installed (it only can only have one installed, the same one that’s registered with Beacon)
It’s also possible that you may not understand the sequence of messages that Beacon sends. Depending on Beacon’s settings and how the incident goes, you may or may not receive all of the messages that you’re expecting.
Here are a couple resources to help you figure it out:
If you’re using Beacon to run simulations, it’s very likely you’re going to move through the incident very quickly — faster than in real life. This will result in you completing the incident before the Confirmation Windows close, so the incident will stay open until the Confirmation Windows close.
If you’ve ever used Uber or Lyft, you know that these ride-sharing apps use GPS to find the driver that’s closest to you, so it makes sense that Beacon should be able to do that, too, right?
There are several reasons why Beacon doesn’t use the GPS location of Responders to decide who’s closest:
Not all Responders have smartphones and/or Internet connectivity all the time. If Beacon only relied on GPS locations, then Responders using Beacon via SMS would never get assigned to incidents because Beacon wouldn’t know their location
Beacon doesn’t know where you are unless you have your phone turned on and the Beacon app open in the foreground. As soon as you turn the phone off, lock the phone screen, put the app in the background or swipe close it, Android and iOS no longer allow apps to track your location. As a result, once the Beacon mobile app is no longer open and in the foreground, Beacon only knows your last reported location, which may or may not be your current location.
Uber and Lyft drivers do it to get paid, while many Beacon users are volunteers. This makes a big difference: When an Uber or Lyft driver gets assigned to a call, they usually take it because that’s how they make money. If you’re using Broadcast Alerts in Beacon, it’s very likely you’re working with volunteer Responders. And as we all know is the case with volunteers, they often get alerts for emergency incidents that they don’t respond to — even if they’re the closest person to the incident. So, telling the closest Responders to an incident that they’re needed, only to learn that they’re not going to respond, is just a huge waste of time.
Hailing a taxi is a fairly simple transaction; when someone asks for a taxi, they only need one vehicle to come pick them up. Emergency dispatching is very different. For starters, not all emergencies are the same. If someone slips and falls, you may only need one ambulance to respond. But for a motor vehicle collision with multiple victims, you’ll likely need more resources. While it’s possible in theory to automate all of the different response combinations that exist, we’ll be very impressed to see it when it happens. Until then, we’ll rely on Dispatchers to figure out the type of resources they’ll need for each incident, and then let Responders decide if they can or can’t go.
Technically, Beacon allows that. Be we don’t recommend sending requests for emergency via text message (what’s commonly referred to as “text-to-911”). Typing out messages and sending them back and forth with a dispatcher is far more time consuming than speaking directly with the dispatcher, especially on non-smart phones and for communities with lower tech literacy. Also, pre-arrival instructions are difficult to both give and perform while texting— imagine trying to give CPR or administer a drug while texting with the dispatcher (vs. speakerphone, for example)!
If you have just created a new account it’s possible your map may appear all blue on both the dispatch dashboard and the mobile app.
This is likely because your map’s latitude / longitude are set to 0˚, 0˚, placing you in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean off the western coast of Africa. If this is the case, the map will continue to focus at these coordinates until you change them.
To resolve this issue:
Open the Main Menu
Click on Settings
Click on Catchment Area Map
Point and click to place the Map Marker where you want your map to focus