Deborah Buszard, deputy vice-chancellor at UBCO, gives a speech Thursday at a federal funding announcement regarding an app that will increase boater safety. The creator Nelson Jatel (left) is a UBC alumnus. (Carli Berry - Capital News)

$595,000 given to Kelowna company to create safer sailing app

The app will alert emergency contacts if boaters don’t arrive

A new app, created by a Kelowna company funded by the federal government, will ensure sailors are safe when out at seas.

The app ensures navigators have a sailing plan and will automatically alert emergency contacts and rescue responders if users do not arrive at their destinations within a designated time.

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement Thursday morning at the Kelowna Yacht Club, alongside Lake Country-Kelowna MP Stephen Fuhr, that $595,000 will be invested into the Kelowna company for the app.

READ MORE: Premier John Horgan calls for high-tech investment to boost B.C. economy

Users will fill out a profile for the app, which intends to be used as a planner in case an emergency situation happens.

Chief executive officer Nelson Jatel, with Limnology Research Cooperation, which is building the app, said it will be ready to roll out in a beta version mid-April.

READ MORE: Okanagan tech industry booming, contributes over $1.6 billion to regional economy

Also the owner of a fishing charter company, Jatel noticed there wasn’t an app for boaters to make it easier for them to chart a sailing plan, which is where his idea started.

On average, the Canadian Red Cross says 166 people die in boating-related incidents each year.

“It is designed for Canadian boaters from coast to coast and it’s intended to support marine boaters,” he said.

The app will be available in about a year for the general public.

“If you’re in one of these emergency response centres on the coast, it will be directly sent to the coastguard so they know you are overdue,” Jatel said.

Emergency responders will be altered, and they are able to track how many people have filed a sailing plan.

The app also allows users to amend the plan while in cell service, and will contact those in the app’s user contact list prior to sending the coast guard.

If users lose their phone, they can still check in through a computer or another phone, Jatel said.

READ MORE: UBC Okanagan opens new high-tech learning and teaching building

A plan for a similar app is also being funded for search and rescue groups on land, said Goodale.

“We’re trying to cover all kinds of outdoor adventures, whether it’s on the water or in the backcountry,” he said.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Check out the latest gadgets at the 2019 BC Tech Summit

The funding was made available through the Search and Rescue New Initiatives Fund. The Government of Canada dedicates $7.6 million each year to support new and ongoing projects under SAR NIF.

READ MORE: BC Tech Summit to revolutionize business models

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carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

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