Our letter to the New York Times
In July, a friend of Forge sent us an article about the dangers that unverified trails on mobile apps can open trail-users up to. This article resonated with us, as this is exactly the problem we try to solve - keeping people safe whilst out on the trail.
To the editor,
In Alyssa Lukpat’s article ‘Smartphone Directions May Put Novice Hikers in Danger, Experts Say’ dated 18 July 2021, she details how hiking apps, whilst well-intended, can be counter-intuitive to their user’s safety whilst out on the trail. Incorrect or over-simplified trail maps (not reviewed by experts) can send users in the wrong direction and give them a false sense of security, as they might ignore other important preparatory safety checks. Other issues raised include the downfall of relying on apps that fail without cell-phone signal and phones running out of battery.
Taking these concerns into consideration is at the heart of what has informed the development of a free hiking app started in Cape Town, South Africa – Forge. Its trails are hand-digitised and verified as far as possible, ensuring their accuracy. Each map also includes GPS location, downloadable offline versions as well as relevant emergency contacts. Forge has begun partnering with local conservation authorities to further ensure accuracy and reliability of information that ultimately empowers users and keeps them safe out in the wilderness.
Photo by Roark Robinson: Hikers watching sunset at the end of a day on the Otter Trail, Tsitsikamma National Park.
Be sure to get the free Forge App on your mobile and download our offline maps to take with you onto the mountain, then share the stoke using #ForgeSA.
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