GPS Tracking for Elderly People and others


I recently posted a blog on this topic which has proven quite popular. It appears that there are many people concerned about the safety of people when they are away from their home. There are already products such as Lifelink from St Johns which are excellent products around the house, but there are many people looking for products to help out when people are out of range of their home.

Having had yet another call from one of many companies looking at bringing in products from China and other parts I have decided to check one out for myself. The one I am going to check out is one that has gone through a number of refinements which will probably make it a little more expensive, but possibly far more beneficial as well. I won’t mention any brands yet, but what I like about this product includes:

  • A drop sensor. If the devices falls or the person carrying it in their pocket, or perhaps around their necks, falls, as elderly people sometimes do, it will set of an alarm which will call someone and send them a message.
  • A panic button which can allow the device to send an emergency signal to a predetermined location if there is a problem and the person needs assistance.
  • A microphone and speaker so that not only can the person send an emergancy message but they can talk to a call centre or their help service.
  • The ability to call up to 3 predetermined numbers and talk to the person at the other end.

These services also include the ability for authorised people to view the location of the device, i.e. the person carrying it, on a map from anywhere that they can access an internet browser.

If this product is as good as the supplier says, it will have huge value for a variety of services including, elderly or infirm people, children, people with severe allergies or other potential health problems, people in risky careers such as security guards or investigators, or even police as well as services such as mental health nurses and midwives who are helping people in the community.

By having a combination of a SIM card with GPRS and SMS capabaility as well as speech, any wearer can be located on a map and can also be in voice contact where necessary. Obviously as these devices prove their worth, their popularity will increase and consequently prices will come down. Because they are portable they can also be used on an ad hoc basis or in a pooled environment to be shared.

I’ll let you know how my pilot goes.

Zimbabwe election SMS and other TXT Messages


This weekend President Mugabe is doing everything he can to ensure that he is once again re-elected and it seems that while he is giving cars and houses to doctors along with other good will gestures, the radio stations are being heavily censored. For example, according to Zimbabwe Independant Weekly, last night, all ZBC radio and TV stations stopped normal programming to provide live coverage of Zanu PF’s election manifesto launch that lasted for four hours. Of course the others got no coverage.

Radio stations like SW Radio Africa tried to break through and provide independant coverage by Short Wav Radio and apparently this technology is also being jammed (purportedly and ironically by Chinese technology) so they and other stations are now using SMS technology to bring news headlines to those who want to balance the information flow.

SMS was conceived in the 1980’s primarily as a means to advise people that they had a voice message or had missed a call. The first deployments were in 1993 in Los Angeles, Norway and UK and by 1995 the average usage per GSM subscriber was 0.4 per month!

Today SMS is a way of life and used in so many different ways. Just for me in recent times I have used SMS to comunicate with business clients to confirm appointments and to communicate with coleagues. I have paid for car parking via SMS and this morning sent a woke up message to my daughter in Australia.

I have donated to many charities via SMS, voted for performers on TV and entered competitions by sending an instruction to a Short Code.

On TXT Tunes you can pay to buy and download my songs using SMS.

SMS has had a phenomenal impact on the written language as teenagers created shortcuts in an effort to fit more information into the 160 character messages. Sum adults cn find dis hard to read, but u r not r u? In business I have found this difficult finding young staff who can write a business letter and have found some CV’s on my desk with wrting that automatically precludes potentially very intelligent people from working with me.

In recent times I have been working with projects that allow people to send a SMS request to a GPS locating device, which in turn sends an SMS with spatial co-ordinates to our reverse geocoder that then facilitates sending the nearest street address to the originator again as an SMS message. A next step to this is emergency locator technology for elderly or sick people, where they can send an SMS with the calculated nearest street address to an authority or service if they are in trouble. Car navigation systems will soon be able to do the same when a car has an accident. In New Zealand it is not uncommon for someone to drive down a bank on a winters night and not be able to tell people on their phone where they are. Imagine a system where of airbags are deployed in a car, the bluetooth connection to the driver’s mobile phone automatically sends an SMS with their exact location to the breakdown service.

Watch this space!