Created over 21 years ago as a digital communications information channel for amateur radio, APRS has evolved a growing set of capabilities, including the ability for radios to automatically transmit their GPS coordinates.  Radios can be configured to send their position every time the user keys the mic – the APRS signal happens in a brief burst on a separate frequency right after the user stops transmitting. 

These APRS broadcasts are picked up by a series of gateways, which receive the various types of APRS messages and then send them into a network of APRS servers on the internet. From there, one can view the positions of APRS users from all across the globe.

CommandWear and APRS at Celebration of Lights

The Celebration of Lights brings out about 500,000 people to the beaches in Vancouver to watch the world’s largest outdoor urban fireworks display. With that number of people, communications and keeping track of everyone’s location can be very difficult. CommandWear once again showed it’s usefulness at the Celebration of Lights.

At the 2015 Celebration of Lights, CommandWear demonstrated that it can connect to an APRS server, filter incoming positions based on the callsigns of radios, and then use the CommandWear REST API to send those positions into its app.

The test proved its usefulness when volunteers needed assistance. Over the radio, the volunteers repeated an incorrect location multiple times. However, CommandWear showed multiple position reports on the map indicating exactly where they were. It allowed the local command structure to verify with them that the GPS position correct, and ensured that the resources could be dispatched to the proper location immediately.

CommandWear’s architecture is designed so that it can quickly and effectively integrate with other sources of location data and communications, whether it is new devices or bidirectional information sharing with dispatch systems.