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Apostle Islands cell coverage map hopes to save lives

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APOSTLE ISLANDS, WI -- The Apostle Islands welcomes hundreds of visitors every summer into its waters. A new tool is helping those visitors communicate with safety patrols in case of an emergency.

"Most people these days don't even think about communication such as marine radios, they rely on cell phones," said IT Director for Red Cliff, Theron Rutyna.

Rutyna said Monday after a cell tower was placed in the area earlier this year, officials quickly noticed they were still missing valuable information.

"Real life, on-scene can you actually make a call, can you make a 911 call? can you make a text? That's data that we didn't have," said Rutyna.

That's when the United States Coast Guard and The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians got together and used mapping software to comb the island to see what areas have little to no cell signal.

"We ran about just shy of 200 nautical miles of operation in the area using red cliff mapping software and equipment on AT&T first net as well as other commercial carriers," added Rutyna.

A map now available for the public, covers the entirety of the Apostle Islands giving people a general idea of where they can go and still have access to service.

Kyle Caddotte, Red Cliff Chief of Police said this chart will also help first responders, "This definitely increases the opportunity to respond faster to a more accurate location."

Rutyna added though it is a helpful tool, people should always be vigilant and plan their trips accordingly.

"There's nothing that will give you better coverage than having a marine radio that you can communicate to shore with or coast guard with. Folks can bring their cell phones, bring larger devices like Ipads that have bigger antennas," said Rutyna.

Click here to view the cell service map.

Lyanne Valdez

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