The Uepaa! app enables smartphones to communicate with others nearby

The Uepaa! app enables smartphones to communicate with others nearby

A smartphone app used by 50,000 outdoor enthusiasts in the Alps has been launched in the UK.

Uepaa! is a peer-to-peer system that provides extra safety cover for walkers and other enthusiasts where there is little or no mobile phone coverage.

The Swiss app works by building a network of users and linking their phones in a ‘mesh’ which helps pinpoint people in trouble who may be in need of rescue.

The app was introduced this weekend at The Gathering, the biennial conference of mountain rescuers from the British Isles.

Subscribers to the free app download the software into their smartphones, then add personal details including contact numbers of next-of-kin. The more users there are, the better the chances of being able to link to other nearby users who may have a signal, even if an injured person can’t contact the emergency services direct.

Alan Prescott of Keswick Mountain Rescue Team said: “This technology has the potential to improve our response times, especially in areas where there is poor or no network reception.

“Incident location and other detailed information, obtained from an area where there is no network signal, is a very positive step in the right direction.”

Uepaa! said: “The UK has widespread signal blackspots. When accidents happen here, they can be fatal. If unconscious and alone, chances of survival rapidly become even slimmer.

“Uepaa has integrated a piece of multi-hop peer-to-peer technology into an app which allows for ‘off the grid’ communication between phones.”

The basic service if free to use. A premium level, with extra features including remote tracking and automatic accident detection, costs 3 Swiss Fr a day, or 70 Swiss Fr (about £46) a year.

Users of the basic Uepaa! service can key in what colour clothing they are wearing and who they are accompanying.

The scheme has 450 rescue organisations linked worldwide including UK police and voluntary mountain rescue teams.

Mathias Haussmann, founder and chief executive of Uepaa, said: “We strongly believe our technology, developed & tested in the Swiss Alps, can make a true difference to people’s safety across the UK and Ireland, where we know signal blackspots are an issue.

“With our UK launch we hope to grow our installed user base in order to secure best Off Net coverage worldwide and save lives by helping rescue teams locate casualties quicker.”

The app is available for Android devices via the Google Play site and for iPhones in the App Store. Swiss outdoor gear brand Mammut is one of the app’s sponsors.

More details are on the Uepaa website.

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