Mountain sports have become a trend sport in recent years. In addition to winter tourism, an increase in summer tourism has been observed in the last 10 years. This development with a focus on mountain and alpine tourism is also noticeable in the outdoor industry. For example, the number of members of the German Alpine Club has doubled in the last 20 years. The pressure of usage on the Alps was once again increased during the summers of 2020 and 2021 by the Corona Pandemic, which is why there has been an expansion of activities in the mountains. Therefore, the number as well as the variety of emergencies and accidents in the mountains are increasing. This development is especially noticeable in various statistics of the mountain rescue organizations. Since the last few years, these organizations have registered an increasing number of emergencies, reaching new peaks in the last two years, especially during summer. In many of these operations, however, it is not always possible for the mountain rescuers to locate the exact location of the emergency site due to often poor mobile signal reception in the Alps. This often means a great loss of time. However, time in particular plays a decisive role in emergencies. Therefore, a new approach is needed to further minimize time during mountain rescues.
In the empirical part of the thesis, interviews were used to gather important insights from mountain rescuers and people involved in mountain emergencies. The interviews revealed that all positioning technologies available to mountain rescue are dependent on the smartphone, its user, as well as mobile data reception and the mobile network. However, the current mobile network quality in the Alps is not yet fully capable of transmitting location data, which is why problems and difficulties often arise in the process. These findings formed the basis for the design of the Sign Watch.
Sign Watch is a wearable, which in case of emergency allows to send an SOS signal with coordinates via Iridium satellite network and a pre-programmed SMS to an operation center supported by Iridium. This center forwards all data to the nearest emergency center of the accident, which then alerts the rescue team. The rescuers have all the important information at the start of the rescue and can thus prepare for the operation in a targeted manner. An app with a user account, which is connected to the watch, also provides rescuers with all other information about the victim. To connect the watch to the user account of the app, a QR code must be scanned. If the victim is unconscious and does not respond to the watch, the watch will forward an automatic emergency SMS to the nearest Iridium operation center after 90 seconds. If the emergency SMS is triggered manually, the watch uses an algorithm to ask all five W-questions and thus obtains relevant information about the accident, the number of victims and type of injuries. This information is then packaged into a pre-programmed SMS and sent to the emergency center.