Coast Guard search and rescue network joins Facebook

A U.S. Coast Guard program that helps coordinate sea rescues has launched a Facebook page to better link the participants.

The Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue system ( Amver), is a computer-based search and rescue program that arranges for assistance  for persons in distress at sea. Rescue coordinators use the system to identify participating ships in the area, and divert the best-suited ship or ships to respond.

Officials hope Facebook will help Amver communicate with its users.

“Whether it’s recent rescue photos and videos, upcoming international awards ceremonies and exhibitions, or important information on enrolling and reporting, you can stay updated by adding Amver as a friend on Facebook,” program officials said in a press release Oct. 16.

The Coast Guard is interested in adopting other Web 2.0 tools to help with its missions said Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen.

“We are seeing a revolution in how we deal with information management through social media,” he said. “It is critically important that we understand what technology is doing today, how it is changing, and how we must change with it.”

Participating ships send sail plans to the Amver computer center before launching. The ships then report every 48 hours until arriving at their port. Using that data, officials are able to pinpoint the probable location of ships during voyages.

In an emergency, any rescue coordination center can request the data to determine the relative position of Amver ships near the distress location. On any given day there are more 3,300 ships available to carry out search and rescue services, Coast Guard officials said.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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