A SPOT Gateway is a satellite ground terminal which receives and sends signals to and from satellites passing in view. SPOT has a network of 13 Gateways around the globe to support the SPOT services. Each Gateway has redundant equipment, a backup power system and two independent private data connections to the SPOT data centers. Their locations are selected to provide maximum coverage and redundancy through overlapping coverage. Listening 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, these gateways pass SPOT messages to our data center and on to your friends and family or to the International Emergency Response Center. Gateways are one of the pieces of the system that allows each SPOT Customer to stay in touch or summon help when needed from almost anywhere on the globe.
Many people have asked this and have had questions about how SPOT 911 messages are handled. It was a very special pleasure to have Barry Watters and Peter Chlubek from GEOS visiting in the office this week, so I asked them to provide a little overview for the tech talk column. Here was Barry’s rundown:
“GEOS provides the “power behind the buttonSM” on your SPOT device to bring you the 911 search and rescue support program that is part of your SPOT basic service subscription.
Through its dedicated International Emergency Rescue Coordination Center (IERCC) based in Houston, Texas, GEOS operates its service. Manned 24/7, the IERCC has dedicated and highly trained personnel who have instant access to national emergency response units worldwide to ensure that in the event of an emergency, your situation will be dealt with efficiently and quickly.
GEOS average response time between receipt of your 911 activation and dispatch of emergency responders to help you—wherever you are in the world—is only 11 minutes. Click Read More below for article continuation and photos...
SPOT Transmits your GPS location through a network of LEO Satellites (Low Earth Orbit). These satellites are in constant motion and are in 8 planes with 6 satellites in each plane providing overlapping coverage. They fly at an altitude of 1,414 kilometers or 884 miles above the earth, moving at 17,000 miles per hour overhead. The satellites move horizon to horizon in approximately 20 minutes, so no matter where you are (such as in a canyon or on a mountain), as long as you can see the sky, your SPOT message gets through.
SPOT has been designed and tested to survive the harshest environments. That includes water, which means that SPOT is waterproof and it will float (not always right side up). SPOT is tested to IP69 which is the most stringent test for waterproof devices. SPOT is rated to be waterproof to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes and it must float in all water environments. In addition, SPOT must remain watertight over the full operating temperature range. So with your SPOT, you can feel confident around the water.
SPOT uses lithium batteries for very important reasons, all of which are very important for proper operation of your SPOT. The SPOT device operates with Energizer 1.5V non-rechargeable size AA lithium batteries. Any other brand of AA lithium will be rechargeable and may be high voltage, which will damage the unit. The most important reason is that lithium batteries work over a wide operating temperature range allowing SPOT to work from -40C to +85C. Other battery types only work down to 0C. As well, lithium batteries store up to 2.5 times more energy than other batteries, are 33% lighter and have a shelf life of 10 years. However, in an emergency, alkaline batteries will function but provide limited performance and longevity.
“SPOT uses a single patch antenna to receive the GPS signal and then transmit your coordinates over the LEO satellites. The antenna is located under the SPOT logo and measures 44 mm by 44 mm. That means that when you use your SPOT, it is important to make sure that the SPOT logo is facing toward the open sky for the best performance.”