Remote areas and patchy cellphone reception are part and parcel of an African overland trip. How will you update family and friends about your location and safety on the road? A nifty satellite device offers the solution. By Arnold Ras
With the winter school holidays almost here, many families are packing their bags to explore Africa. But far-flung destinations and intermittent cellphone reception can add up to worried loved ones back home. Thanks to a clever and easy-to-use tracking device, you can let your friends and family know exactly where you are, without any hassles. You don’t even have to worry about cellphone reception letting you down when you least expect it.
Tracks4Africa has teamed up with tracking company AfricanStuff to transform your Africa trip into a live-feed experience for curious or concerned folks back home. And you don’t have to be a tech genius to install or use the device – it’s all super simple!
How the service works
“We give you a satellite tracking device to carry with you or stick to your vehicle’s windscreen. The device is powered by AA batteries that will last up to six weeks. Every 10 minutes the device will send your position as a GPS coordinate to our servers via a satellite connection. This means that it will work even where no mobile reception is available,” explains Johann Groenewald, T4A co-founder.
As a traveller, you are issued with a link to a website that maps your trip and clearly indicates your last known location. All you have to do, is share the link with family and friends, and Bob’s your uncle.
“AfricanStuff provides the service and T4A integrates with their servers so your data can come straight to T4A and we can then display it on a web map,” says Johann.
Peace of mind
Although T4A does not offer any recovery or monitoring services, the company provides you with the tools to do it yourself. “Leave your itinerary with someone at home and ask them to check your progress against this. If you are going through an area that you know is very remote and where no mobile reception will be available, alert them and give them a back-up plan. They will be able to see if you are not making progress and if you are not out of this remote area by the time you said you would be, something can be done as your location is known,” says Johann.
For social media users, you can even embed the provided URL on your personal Facebook page with the help of an iFrame app like Woobox.
What are the costs?
For R500 per month (or part thereof), you can spend more time enjoying the African wilderness and less on reassuring those back home of your wellbeing. T4A even provides you with a set of AA batteries at R150 per set that will do the job for at least four weeks. The device rental calls for a R2,000 deposit, which you will get back upon returning it.
Any technical requirements?
Nope! “The device is very robust and basic. You receive it via courier and you switch it on. For this you need a small screwdriver, but we supply that as well. Then you stick it to your windscreen and forget about it.”
Could it be any easier, T4A travellers? No-worries innovation for peace of mind as you set off on your adventure. Don’t be caught without it this holiday season.
For more information or to ORDER a device, send an email to email@example.com.