Hoax emergency calls to the U.S. Coast Guard cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Deploying an HC-130 Super Hercules surveillance aircraft, for example, costs about $15,000 an hour.
And the hoax calls endanger the real victims of real emergencies, tying up personnel and equipment.
“The number of confirmed search and rescue hoax calls each year is dangerous for Coast Guard personnel, costly to taxpayers and takes resources away from other legitimate Coast Guard operations,” said Cmdr. Kristi Bernstein of the Office of Maritime Law Enforcement.
So officials recently finished a project to help determine whether or not a call is legitimate and possibly catch the hoaxers.
“Developing a technology to rapidly identify their location would improve the ability of [search and rescue] controllers to identify probable hoax calls and make informed launch/no-launch decisions,” Bernstein said in a report on the Department of Defense website.
The Search and Rescue Hoax Location Systems and Methods project recently was carried out at the military branch’s research and development complex in New London, Connecticut.
Experts tried to “evaluate and demonstrate different technologies that would assist the Coast Guard Investigative Service and other partners with locating, identifying and prosecuting hoax callers within the Coast Guard domain,” said Holly Wendelin, a project manager.
As a result, the Coast Guard is proposing a three-prong approach, including enhanced direction-finding capabilities, audio forensics and analytics, and social media resources.
The Coast Guard’s Rescue 21 system already offered some direction-finding capabilities by generating a line of bearing from the tower to the source of a call.
Jay Spalding, a project participant, said integrating multiple lines of bearing can provide a more precise location for vessels in distress.
Researchers worked with the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Stiletto Maritime Capabilities Demonstration Program to review additional direction finding options under Very High Frequency and High Frequency channels.
“The second tool, social media exploitation, involves social media monitoring to capture and geo-reference nefarious social network posts for situational awareness, resource planning and law enforcement evidence collection,” the Coast Guard reported.
The third tool is the ability to use audio forensics.