Live Tracking explained
At the heart of the system is a very small tracking device which is, essentially, a GPS and a mobile phone in one box. The unit works out its position in 3D (ie including altitude) from the GPS module and then sends this data across the mobile phone system to an internet server - LiveTrack24.com. The data is collected by this server and bundled into a single file containing all the pilots in the task and this is then broadcast, across the internet, as a KML (Google Earth) file.
There are a number of ways to view the data - navigate to LiveTrack24.com and look for the required task on the front page - like this...
The best way is the Google Earth link ....
This will download a special KML file which is updated live and allows you to use all of the functions of Google Earth to view the task any way you want to. If you don't have Google Earth available (maybe you're in an office) then the 3D plug in may be able to help - but this is a much 'heavier' application and requires quite a powerful machine. Also, for a really 'light' way to follow the action you can use the FASTRetrieve live map - the link (if the comp is on right now then the link is on the FRONT PAGE)
It takes a while to learn to use Google Earth properly but, once you have the basics mastered, you can view the race from any angle, see who's higher and watch as they take each cylinder. The task is online as soon as it is set so you can even watch all the pilots taking off and finding that first, important, climb.
Live Tracking and FASTRetrieve
Live Tracking is a fantastic service and it has changed the way that we run paragliding competitions but units fail, batteries run flat and sometimes we can overload the phone system (or just fly where there is no mobile network) - at these times the Live Tracking fails. FASTRetrieve takes more details - it takes position reports from pilots, buses, SPOT satellite trackers, Del Lorme devices and any other means of getting information that we have available (eg radio reports etc). The FASTRetrieve system always has the most recent position available, wherever it came from, so it is the definitive guide to where the pilots are.
All this info is then presented on a live internet map (and there is also a local copy at HQ in case the internet fails - which is not so uncommon) so the retrieve co-ordinator has all the information at a glance.