NRC, a US Ecology company together with Hawaii Ocean Safty Team (HOST) developed an innovative solution that helped the Coast Guard to reduce unnecessary search and rescue missions.
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US Ecology and Hawaii Ocean Safety Team Partner with the United States Coast Guard to Design Solution that Reduces Unnecessary Search and Rescue Missions
Hawaii is one of the most popular places in the world for water sports, involving a wide variety of watercrafts. With all the ocean-based activity in the area, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) receives three-to-four calls a week reporting adrift unlicensed items like kayaks, paddleboards, surfboards and dive floats. When this happens, the USCG is required to initiate search and rescue efforts that are not only costly but occupy valuable resources. Fortunately, these USCG searches almost never result in a real emergency, as the drifting items many times are simply lost or forgotten.
To reduce unnecessary missions, the USCG developed a sticker that can be applied to any watercraft showing owner contact information, so when a lost watercraft is found the owner can be notified and the USCG can quickly confirm if a person is missing.
While this sticker helped decrease unnecessary search and rescue missions, it had multiple pitfalls. It did not securely adhere to the exterior of the watercraft and marker writing quickly rubbed off, making contact information illegible. It also offered little privacy for the owner as personal information was publicly displayed. As a result, few people used the sticker, which left the USCG in need of a better, more permanent solution to identify lost watercrafts and reduce unnecessary search and rescue missions.
With the goal of creating a new and improved sticker, the USCG partnered with the Hawaii Ocean Safety Team (HOST). HOST is an organization that serves as the Harbor Safety Committee for Hawaii, whose purpose is to enhance ocean safety by providing a forum for communication between government, industry and the ocean-enjoying public.
NRC, a US Ecology company, provides oil spill removal services in compliance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) in Hawaii and the rest of the world. We are dedicated to the well-being of the communities we serve, and as an active member of HOST’s Harbor Safety Committee, we helped create a more effective version of the sticker that keeps contact information private. This updated sticker is laminated and UV coated, using state-of-the-art QR code technology developed by local philanthropist Tom Eloph, which connects to an app to more privately register a watercraft.
This enabled NRC and HOST to provide an innovative solution to the USCG that addresses all issues with the original sticker. To register, watercraft owners simply scan the QR code on their sticker and enter their contact information online which gets stored in a secure database. This information can then be retrieved by the USCG’s Command Center if the need arises, ensuring privacy of the information. Currently, HOST has created 1,000 stickers and is working to secure funds to increase production and meet local demand. Working together with our partners, NRC continues to focus and invest in initiatives that benefit the Hawaiian coastal community.