Wednesday, May 1, 2013


If you're a SPOT tracker user you probably rely on SPOT's shared page mapping services to share your trips with friends and family.  And if you're doing that you probably know that the user interface is clunky, there's not particularly sophisticated control over what you can share and what you can't, and your data go away after a week.  (I've never used SPOT's "SPOT Adventures" service so I can't comment on what it provides).

Piia and Julien, an adventurous young couple who spent the last year here in Two Rivers and recently left for a new life in the Yukon, clued me into a service I'd been unfamiliar with, called Spotwalla.  Spotwalla provides a mapping interface for your GPS data, including but not limited to SPOT trackers. Others include the Delorme InReach, a variety of conventional GPS devices, and smartphones.  (See the list here).

It looks pretty neat, although I think it probably requires a slightly higher level of technical sophistication than SPOT shared pages do.  One thing that I particularly like is that it gives you reasonably granular control over sharing and privacy, allowing not just a variety of access control mechanisms but also the ability to disable sharing from certain locations.  (Privacy is something that probably should be taking more seriously by people using trackers - they don't just show where you are, but they also show where you're not.  Be thoughtful about what you share.)

They also provide their own RESTful API to the service, including "value-add" features specific to their service and  not part of the SPOT service (for example, if you've uploaded pictures you can retrieve those programmatically through the API).

But the big deal, as far as I'm concerned, is that the locations aren't purged after a week, as they are with SPOT's service.

So, pretty interesting.  I very rarely carry my SPOT in tracking mode but at this point, I'm inclined to use Spotwalla rather than SPOT's shared pages for when I do in the future.

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