Suitable workflow for SAR Topo in Canada

thomaschristian's Avatar

thomaschristian

07 Jan, 2020 05:38 AM

I'm currently writing a report for my (British Columbia, Canada) SAR group on the various mapping options and I'm trying to learn more about SAR Topo.

According to https://www.reddit.com/r/Ultralight/comments/a8rwsv/caltopo_released_an_app/ as of December 2018 offline data was not available in Canada, which presumably means the Offline / Desktop app is effectively redundant. According to the Knowledge Base I should be able to view offline data at https://sartopo.com/offline/data but that link simply tells me to use the app, which I do not have, so I cannot verify this myself.

What is the intended workflow for SAR managers in Canada? From what I can tell SAR Topo would be suitable for planning a search before heading out to a staging area, but once we lose our internet connection there is nothing more we can do with the tool. Any changes to our planning, or additional data coming in from searchers, would need to be managed via a different tool. Is this accurate?

Our SAR group covers some very remote areas in northern BC and we regularly spend multiple days on site without an internet connection.

  1. Support Staff 1 Posted by Ben Lantow on 07 Jan, 2020 01:24 PM

    Ben Lantow's Avatar

    Offline data is available in Canada. We have a ton of Canadian SAR teams using the software at this point. On my near future to-do list is to generate coverage maps. If you want you can navigate to sartopo.com/join, login and use code SCA387 to sign up for a free first responder account, and while it doesn't enable to desktop app, it does allow offline data downloads for the same areas that the desktop map covers.

    I'm working on adding additional coverage maps to better show what layers are available on or offline.

  2. Ben Lantow closed this discussion on 07 Jan, 2020 01:24 PM.

  3. thomaschristian re-opened this discussion on 23 Jan, 2020 05:45 PM

  4. 2 Posted by thomaschristian on 23 Jan, 2020 05:45 PM

    thomaschristian's Avatar

    Thanks, though I found this a little difficult to understand "while it doesn't enable to desktop app, it does allow offline data downloads for the same areas that the desktop map covers". I have been able to test this out in the Android app - is that what you intended, given that I cannot test downloads in SAR Topo offline if I don't have access to it?

    Confusingly (in the Android app) there is little correlation between the options in "Download Layers" and "Map Layers". For example, "Download Layers" includes "Elevation Data" (which is available in my area), however that name does not appear anywhere in the "Map Layers" dialog. When I cycle through the offline options the base map doesn't change, so when I hit the download button I don't actually know what I'm going to get. Am I missing something here? It seems like a significant usability issue if I don't actually know what I'm downloading, and it could potentially put searchers in the field with useless data.

    Our SAR group covers a very remote area and rarely has any internet connectivity on a search, so the availability of offline data is probably the biggest concern in whether or not we adopt SAR Topo. The other Canadian users I have talked to all spent a significant amount of time acquiring, styling, and tiling their own offline data, and it is generally agreed that SAR Topo has very large upfront effort costs. We can do this if necessary, but it concentrates a lot of knowledge and expertise in a small number of people and that presents a maintenance risk in the future. It would address a lot of our concerns if you did publish information about offline data coverage - both the areas that are covered and what kind of data is available in the layers.

  5. Support Staff 3 Posted by Ben Lantow on 23 Jan, 2020 06:45 PM

    Ben Lantow's Avatar

    We have a separate desktop software suite that is only available with a Desktop or Team subscription, we also have a very generous refund policy, up to a year after payment with no questions asked. The free first responder accounts include access to downloads of some offline data but not all.

    As for layers, you're absolutely right, we're updating with the next update so that all 3 lists use the same name for the same layer. However we do have a couple extra download options intentionally, such as elevation data, there are use cases where a user may want to download that data or not download it (it's quite large, though it is included with the Map Builder Layer and doesn't get double downloaded). As for updating the download explorer based on layer selection, thats a great idea, no idea why we didn't think of it, I just kicked it to our developer team. Can't promise next release but definitely on the radar now.

    I think we'll have to eventually write some sort of offline data coverage map tool for the web, but the availability is shown (or rather unavailable areas are shown in red) within the download utility.

    Thanks for the well thought out feedback, we're a small company so we are able to incorporate a lot of this quickly.

    Best,
    Ben

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