Working with GPS Track Logs During a Multi-period SAR Incident

Chris.Cogan's Avatar


03 Nov, 2017 12:33 AM

While working with track logs during an incident this week I’ve run into a problem I’m hoping someone else has figured out.

It seems that normally I can embed track logs into each assignment when the teams return from the field for debrief. I can accomplish this with a simple click on the assignment text and add the corresponding track log gpx file.

In my case, I want to display the track log from the previous operational period along with new assignment areas. Since I don’t want to display the old assignment areas I can’t display the embedded tracks. My work-around is to simply import the 30 or so tracks as “Lines & Polygons”. This works, and I can use the “Config” tool to hide the numerous labels that would otherwise obscure too much of the map.

For some reason, when I create a new folder (e.g. Operational Period 1 Tracks), then assign the tracks to the new folder, I can no longer turn off the labels. The “Config” tool does bring up the “Labels Shown” or “Labels Hidden” text at the bottom of the items in the folder however clicking on the text to toggle the labels on or off does not hide the labels. This is the same problem in offline or online mode.

So, my question is: how are people working with track logs over multiple operational periods? Is there a better way to show tracks on the assignment maps without drawing the old assignment polygons? Is there some reason that labels of items within a folder cannot be turned off?


  1. Support Staff 1 Posted by caver456 on 03 Nov, 2017 02:24 AM

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    Hey that is an interesting idea. We just show the previous OP assignments
    - we find the previous assignment boundaries to be useful information -
    but, our county (Nevada County CA) does not have all that many multi-OP
    searches - maybe 5 per year that go 3 OPs and maybe 1 or 2 that go 5+ OPs.
    That doesn't directly address the bug you mentioned, but, it's an
    interesting workflow that we might try out. Good luck.

  2. Support Staff 2 Posted by matt on 06 Nov, 2017 06:16 PM

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    I thought I had previously replied to this, but it looks like that fell through for some reason.

    Far predating folders and bulk ops, I made the decision to have attributes like color and visibility cascade from operational periods -> assignments -> tracks, to make it easy to customize the map. Notably this still sort-of works even if you have read-only access, but with folders and bulk ops, I'm not sure that design decision makes as much sense. I haven't looked into it directly, but the visibility is probably not changing because it's inheriting from the assignment object directly rather than the folder.

    I think it's a valid question whether that still makes sense - I'm sure it would make some people unhappy, but I've pondered maintaining the OP -> Assignment -> Track link but making the colors, opacity, etc independent attributes on each rather than having them inherit. This would make the map a little less "automatic", but make it easier to show all tracks while hiding segments, make segments and tracks different colors, etc.

    Honestly as it stands now I normally just import tracks as lines and group them in folders by OP. In my experience (often on mutual aid searches where you have a mix of people, styles and ability levels), tying tracks to individual assignments has been a lot of work for not a lot of gain.

  3. Support Staff 3 Posted by caver456 on 07 Nov, 2017 04:42 AM

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    It depends on your team's debrief methodology. We rely on printing an
    assignment map for debrief that shows the assignment's owned tracks and
    clues, without other clutter. The debriefer sits down with the team and
    goes over the map and tracks, along with the actual debrief form previously
    filled out by the team. There are always multiple ways to get from A to B,
    but this capability that sartopo provides has really made our debriefs
    cleaner, and, in our estimation, more effective. It would be interesting
    to hear if a team with more frequent calls uses (or would want to use) a
    similar debrief flow.

  4. Support Staff 4 Posted by matt on 07 Nov, 2017 05:39 AM

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    But does that have anything to do with settings cascading from the OP? The debrief map (printed directly from an assignment) is a red assignment outline and orange tracks. I could keep the association without having settings cascade.

  5. Support Staff 5 Posted by caver456 on 07 Nov, 2017 02:30 PM

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    Nothing to do with cascading, just chiming in on the question about how
    other teams work with track logs over multiple OPs.

  6. 6 Posted by Chris.Cogan on 07 Nov, 2017 04:30 PM

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    Sounds like we are all on the same page.
    I like to have as much data as possible on the table for the debrief but sometimes we don't even have time to get the track logs printed before the debrief time. We are likely to shift the debrief method to just use a computer monitor to view the returning team tracks to speed up the process. Of course we still use the ICS 204 paper form for notes (by the way it would be great to include the assignment thumb-nail on that form). That said, it's important to be able to drop all the previous assigned search segments and just draw the track logs in various colors (usually with the colors corresponding to Operational Period).

  7. Support Staff 7 Posted by patty.lindsay on 21 Nov, 2017 11:40 PM

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    We usually don't get the tracks loaded in time for the debrief, but occassionally a team lead will return and have a look at them. But we do print out an assignment map once the tracks are loaded, and it is placed with the completed 104. If and when a completed assignment review happens, then the assignment with tracks and clues is quickly visible to the reviewer and greatly aids in the decision whether to re-search the segment the next day.

    I have heard others express frustrations over not being able to control the attributes for the assignment objects, so there may be some merit in not inheriting from the operational period.

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