A Wellington-designed smartphone app is being heralded for helping searchers rescue a missing woman yesterday.
Waikato district search and rescue co-ordinator Constable David Pitchford said the 25-year-old Te Kuiti woman went into the Pureora Forest with her dogs, intending to go for a day walk.
She had no supplies or warm clothing with her as she wasn't expecting to be away for a prolonged period, he said.
"After walking for about five hours the woman realised she was lost and using her smartphone, she rang 111. Because her phone is equipped with a GPS capability, responding police and Search and Rescue volunteers were able to locate her within a few hours."
The speed in which the woman was found had a lot to do with a new smartphone app designed by Wellington company Mobile Locate, which had been trialled with emergency services for about eight months, Mr Pitchford said.
"The application accesses your GPS capability on your phone and relays it to the user - in this case the police.
"This is the second such successful use of the programme by Waikato police since its introduction and we understand other emergency services have had several successes as well."
As well ensuring the safety of the missing woman faster, the app also reduced the amount of time spent searching by volunteer Land Search and Rescue Teams, Mr Pitchford said.
Police relied heavily on their contribution and the goodwill of their employers and families, he said.
"Anything we can do to ensure a speedy and safe resolution of missing person incidents while also reducing the call on volunteers' time is a real positive.
"At the same time, police advise against going into the bush by yourself and even if you don't intend staying overnight, consider taking warm clothing and provisions with you in case the unexpected happens. Obviously having a reliable form of communication such as a GPS capable smartphone is important as well but technology doesn't always work and having some basic bush skills shouldn't be disregarded."