Facebook to the Rescue?

Monday - 10/27/2008, 11:24am EDT

The Coast Guard is trying out its sea legs with a social networking Website to improve communications.

The Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue system (Amver) is a computer-based search and rescue program that helps distressed people at sea. The system is used to identify participating ships in the area, and divert the best-suited ship or ships to respond. Officials hope Facebook can help improve this method.

"Whether it's recent rescue photos and videos, upcoming international awards ceremonies and exhibitions, or important information on enrolling and reporting, you can stay updated by adding Amver as a friend on Facebook," according to a Oct. 16 press release.

Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen tells Federal Computer Week he would like to see more Web 2.0 technology be adopted.

"We are seeing a revolution in how we deal with information management through social media. It is critically important that we understand what technology is doing today, how it is changing, and how we must change with it."

Participating ships send sail plants to the Amver computer before launching, and then report every 48 hours until arriving at their port. Using that data, officials are able to pinpoint the probable location of ships during voyages. On any given day, there are more 3,300 ships available to carry out search and rescue services.