A. The Search Center
One of the largest searches the Destiny Search Project conducted was based at a picnic table in a park. Keep in mind that you may not always have access to a facility right away. Ideally, you want a location that is indoors, has restrooms, water, power, and several different areas where operations can take place and volunteers can wait. Some of the best facilities are schools, civic buildings, churches, and other community locations. Churches can be ideal; they’re naturally inclined to help the community, they usually have adequate facilities, and they can call on congregations to provide volunteer support.
You will want to have several discrete areas within the Search Center in order to carry out specific functions. Some areas should be capable of being secured so as to prevent access by the general public (* indicates secure area).
Registration – This is where volunteers will register
Check In / Out – Volunteers will check in and out (sometimes part of registration)
Volunteer Holding – An area where volunteers can wait for assignment
*Mapping / Planning – This area needs to be secluded from public as much as possible, Some of this part of the system may be done “virtually” using online staff volunteers, more details in the Mapping / Planning section.
Briefing / Assignment – Teams will get briefed on the current operations in either a daily briefing or individual mission briefs, more detail in the Briefings section.
*Family Room – Often, the family wants to be at the search center – It’s a good idea to have a private room where they can break away.
Parking – Having a good parking area can be important as a search grows.
*Communications – Ham radio, FRS, CB, or even Tip Lines (if needed) We also may implement Discord an online voice/text chatb application that is available on most phones, PCs,and web based. More information in the Communications section.
It is possible to combine some areas or functions when space is limited. You may find that many functions are carried out in one spot. A best practice approach is to start planning early for expanded operations; To better understand how these operational sections can be laid out in a search center, look at the Operations Process slide-show. Each section has a corresponding part in this manual that provides additional details and tips on how the process is implemented.
As noted in the requirements, you will need at least one computer or laptop, internet access, a printer able to print at least 100 pages, several software installations, and website access to the Destiny Search Project 2.0 Operation System. All of this should be able to be done on a basic system running Windows, Linux, Apple, or Chrome OS. Spme functiona can be done on a mobile phone but it is recommended to have at least one computer on site.
The ability to finally create the system that was dreamed of years ago comes down to a powerful website and online tool called Airtable. This site offers a free (with paid upgrades) online database application that is powerful, yet easy and intuitive. The free version has some minor limitations, but it can still be used effectively. The Destiny Search Project 2.0 System uses Airtable for data management and we provide an online Airtable template for all approved search implementations.
The system is broken into three ‘tables’ which are represented by the separate tabs on the site. Each one of these tables can have various views which change the way the data is displayed. There are currently 18 views in the current template and demo. More can be added as needed. Do not worry as many of these views will not be used in general operations, and most staff will only need to learn to use 1-3 of them. There are also options to sort the information, print records, quickly add new tables or data fields and more. We will go over all three tables and each of the default views. Before we get started with that go ahead and have a look in a view only mode of a demo setup that has a bunch of sample data already added. Click the link below to view the demo.
We will go over each of the tables, and views alongside with the operations of each of the applicable sections and operations process. Before you can implement your own version of the Airtable Destiny Search Project template and system you will need to complete this guide and then fill in this request form in order to given access, and have a copy provided to you. This is not an automatic system as we want to work directly with users of the DSP system. It may take 12-24 hours to get a response.
Using the free version of Airtable you can have up to 1200 rows per each database. You can also include up to 2GB of attachments. Based on these I expect a single database can handle a search with 500 volunteers, up to 200 Teams, and 200 Maps. This in most all cases will easily cover operations for a single day. In the Records section, we will address how to set up each new day of searching.
There are many map programs and sites that you may use but I recommend using SARTopo Maps. This will be outlined in much more detail in the Mapping / Planning section. You would need a valid working Google account set up, though.
That is everything you will need in a computer to get started. There are some other tools that will be discussed in the Advanced section.