The middle of nowhere is a safer place now, thanks to satellite technology. Snowmobile grooming machines can now be tracked on the trails by AtlasTrax, using Globalstar satellite technology.

Most snowmobile trail grooming has to be done after the joyriders have gone home, and for much of the time the groomers are out of cell phone range. The men and women who operate groomers on far-flung snowmobile trails in Ontario are happy to know that friendly eyes are on them when they’re out there alone in the cold darkness.

Data collected by the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations indicates that snowmobiling generates $8 billion annually in Canada, partly because clubs across the country maintain the sledding trails. In a great many cases, that maintenance is done by club volunteers.

New technology from Globalstar Inc. and AtlasTrax has been adopted by the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) to track more than 360 groomers belonging to 225 member clubs, which maintain more than 30,000 kilometres of trails. The tracking unit, called the SmartOne, is a small satellite modem that uses GPS to link it with the network of satellites owned by Globalstar, and thus to a central communication hub.

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