Trailspace.com has a pretty good article on its website discussing the various emergency response systems available for hikers and other outdoor types. It also delves into some of the ethical issues surrounding the use of electronics in wilderness settings.
The main focus of the article, however, is the announcement of the next-generation of emergency response systems, which is expected to significantly reduce the time needed to locate an emergency beacon, and will result in more lives saved and fewer national resources expended.
For years, NASA, in collaboration with several other governmental agencies, has been working on the Distress Alerting Satellite System (DASS) which would use SAR instruments on Global Positioning System satellites.
DASS would enhance the current COSPAS-SARSAT (Search And Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking) operations by providing near-instantaneous detection and location of 406 MHz emergency beacons.
The new technology sounds pretty promising. You can read the full article by clicking here.
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.