FindMeSAR

The initials "SAR" in the name FindMeSAR mean Search And Rescue. The goal of FindMeSAR is to help make for less search and more rescue.

FindMeSAR is a public service web app from MappingSupport.com. To contact Joseph Elfelt, the developer, open the mappingsupport homepage, then just under the heading "About and contact", click "Read summary". You will see an email link.

FindMeSAR is intended for use on smartphones and tablets. It will run in the browser on a desktop or laptop computer but the location results are unpredictable.

When you call for help with your cell phone, the person at the other end of the call needs to know your location. The FindMeSAR web app will display:
1. Your coordinates
2. An accuracy value
3. Elevation if you are in the USA and online (tap "Stop")
4. A timestamp


The "Next format" button will loop through five coordinate formats. Each one has a different colored screen and all use the WGS84 datum except the Ordnance Survey (OS) grid. The yellow screen displays your latitude longitude in decimal degrees. All 911 dispatchers in the USA are trained to use this coordinate format.
Yellow = Latitude longitude, decimal degrees
Red = Latitude longitude, degrees and decimal minutes
Blue = U.S. National Grid (USNG). Same as MGRS.
Green = UTM
Violet = Ordnance Survey (OS) grid. Used in the United Kingdom

In the USA, if you call 911 for help then use the yellow screen to give the dispatcher your coordinates and accuracy value.

When the accuracy value is 100 feet (~30.5 meters) or less then a button is displayed that will copy the coordinates and accuracy value to the clipboard. You can then paste that data into an email or text message.

There is also a related web page with more documentation. Many questions will be answered by the information on that page.

FindMeSAR gets your location from your browser. All mainstream browsers offer an interface that can obtain coordinates from the phone's GPS chip. Most GPS chips in cell phones use assisted GPS (A-GPS) in order to speed up the time to first fix. The user's phone might also use data from cell towers, wi-fi hotspots, bluetooth and other location aware technologies in determining the user's coordinates.

Starting FindMeSAR
Since this is a web app (i.e. not a native app) it is started with a simple browser link: https://findmesar.com. An icon is included that you can save on your homescreen. The best way to start this web app is by tapping that icon since you will automatically get any new version. If you have an iPhone and start FindMeSAR by tapping its icon on your homescreen, then due to a bug in iOS you do *not* automatically get any new version. If your iPhone is online then tapping "Reload" after it opens will fix this problem by installing any new version.

FindMeSAR can work offline
Even though FindMeSAR is a web app it can work offline. This offline use is made possible by 'service worker' coding which saves a copy of the code in a special part of your browser's memory. The best way to make offline use possible is to follow the steps shown below.

iOS - Check location services
1. Settings > Privacy > Location services.
     Make sure location services are 'on'.
     Still on the same screen, scroll down and tap "Safari websites". This needs to be "While using the app". Do not select "Ask next time or when I share".
2. Settings > Safari. Scroll down to "Settings for websites" and tap "Location". This setting needs to be either "Ask" or "Allow".

iOS - Install FindMeSAR
1. Browse to findmesar.com while your device is online.
2. Save the FindMeSAR icon on your homescreen.
3. Close the browser tab where you opened FindMeSAR.
4. Tap the FindMeSAR icon to open it. This is the step that saves a copy of the code in a special browser cache.

Android - Check location services
1. Settings > Location      Make sure location services are 'on'.
     Still on the same screen, tap "App permissions". Chrome needs to be "Allowed all the time" or "Allowed only while in use".
2. Settings > Apps > Chrome > Permissions > Location. This needs to be "Allow only while using the app" or "Ask every time".

Android - Method 1 - Install FindMeSAR
1. After FindMeSAR opens, tap the bottom of the screen where it says "Add FindMeSAR to Home screen".
2. Tap "Install". The icon has now been added to your screen.

Android - Method 2 - Install FindMeSAR
1. After FindMeSAR opens, tap the 3 dots in upper right corner.
2. Tap "Install app".
3. Tap "Install".

To test the offline use, start by closing all of your browser tabs. Then put your phone in airplane mode and tap the FindMeSAR screen icon.

Accuracy value
The accuracy value is just as important as the coordinates! If FindMeSAR has been running for at least one minute and the accuracy value is not 30 meters or less then something is wrong. Below are some things to try:

1. If you have an Android phone, open your settings and go to the screen where you turn location services on/off. Make sure the location method (or mode) is set to "GPS Only" (also called Device Only).

2. If you are inside a building try to go outside or next to a window so your phone can get better data from the GPS satellites.

3. If you are in a vehicle try to put your phone next to the windshield so your phone can get better data from the GPS satellites.

4. If you hold your phone so your hand covers the GPS antenna then your phone will not get any data from the GPS satellites. Hold your phone in portrait orientation with nothing blocking the upper half of the phone.

5. Remember, if you are using a desktop or laptop computer then results are unpredictable. FindMeSAR is intended for cell phones and tablets.

Almanac data
Assume you are some place with no cell coverage and you want to use FindMeSAR to get your location. Your cell phone must have a current copy of the satellite almanac data. Normally your phone automatically downloads that data quickly from cell towers and you never need to think about it. But if (1) you have traveled to a different area or (2) the GPS feature in your phone has been off for the last 2 weeks or so, then your phone might need to update the almanac data before FindMeSAR can start to determine your location.

Good news: Your phone will download the almanac data from the satellites.
Bad news: This takes about 20 minutes due to the slow transmission rate.

Put your phone in the upright (portrait) position someplace that it has a good view of the sky. After about 20 minutes FindMeSAR will start to display coordinates. It might take another few minutes to get a good (i.e. low) accuracy value.

Troubleshooting
FindMeSAR will not work if its files on your phone get corrupted. Here is how to reload the app’s files to your phone so it works again.
1. Delete the app.
2. Check that your device is online.
3. Browse to findmesar.com.
4. Wait for the app to open.
5. Reload the app.

If the above steps do not fix the problem then open the more documentation page and tap the button "FindMeSAR Known Issues". Scroll down a bit and read the section "If FindMeSAR opens but never seems to work right...."

Map link
This link will start GISsurfer which is a web map that is also produced by MappingSupport. The map will open centered at your location and the geolocation feature will be turned on. This feature displays a small red circle with a crosshair. This symbol will always be positioned at the coordinates produced by your phone or tablet. If you move, this symbol will follow you. Even if you remain in one place it is normal for this symbol to move around on the screen a bit. Tap that symbol to see your coordinates and the accuracy value.

When the map opens it will use the same coordinate format that FindMeSAR is displaying when you ask to see the map. ***Exception: If FindMeSAR is displaying the OS Grid Reference, then GISsurfer will display latitude longitude. Support for OS Grid References will be added to GISsurfer.

If you are in the USA then GISsurfer can display a high resolution topographic map. Tap the basemap button (next to the Menu button) and select "ESRI scanned topo USA". In other countries, try different basemaps to find one that best meets your needs. For example, you could turn on the basemap "ESRI aerial clarity" and then turn on the overlay "ESRI roads and labels". If you are lost, perhaps this map will help you self-rescue.

FindMePro
This is another 'no cost' public service from MappingSupport. This web app is a research tool that anyone can use to see how different settings on their phone affect the location accuracy of the GPS coordinates produced by their phone. In particular, Android users can compare the three locations modes offered by their phones.
Open FindMePro

Disclaimer
By using FindMeSAR you agree that you are doing so entirely at your own risk. You further agree that you will not make any kind of claim or file any lawsuit against the developer of this software.

Privacy policy
The FindMeSAR web app does not retain your location data and does not share your location data with anyone. FindMeSAR does not collect any personally identifiable information.

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