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Swedish preschools use GPS to avoid losing kids

TT/The Local/dl · 21 Sep 2011, 11:39

Published: 21 Sep 2011 11:39 GMT+02:00

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At the Humlan preschool in Borlänge in central Sweden, children's reflective vests are equipped with a transmitter which emits a sound if the children wander beyond the school's boundaries.

“The transmitter is a form of extra security. But we still stand and count the children all the time,” the school's Pernilla Rundqvist told the TT news agency.

In the two years since the vests came into use at the school, a child has never strayed too far from the rest of the group.

However, the GPS alarms have been known to go off even if a child wanders close to the edge of the school zone.

In Malmö in southern Sweden, the Kronprinsen preschool is carrying out a trial whereby children are equipped with GPS transmitters to make it easier for staff to find kids, forgotten or lost during class outings, the Sydsvenskan newspaper reports.

The children have been issued a GPS unit which sends a signal to a smartphone.

If a child wanders beyond a set radius, the telephone issues alerts the bearer that the child is missing, at the same time providing information about the child's whereabouts.

School officials emphasíse, however, that new tech gadgets never will fully replace the watchful eye of preschool staff.

Traffic safety company Momenta has equipped between 100 and 150 preschools across the country with signal-emitting reflective vests.

If a child strays beyond a set area, the vest sends an alert to a staff member's portable monitor.

“The alarm means that kids never manage to disappear far away from the group,” said Momenta's Sven-Erik Karlsson.

Story continues below…

The radio signal has a range of up to 1,500 metres and can be detected by any sensor picking up the signal.

“GPS has its advantages. If a child is in the woods you can see almost exactly where the child is. The drawback, as we see it, is that children don't only disappear outdoors. They can hide in a building and there it's not always a certainty that the GPS signal will get through,” said Karlsson.

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:26 September 21, 2011 by Already in use
I can see the use for protecting small children who might get lost, but don't see how it's of much use for children who want to escape. I mean, all they have to do is take off the jacket. In that case it would be quite unfortunate if one relies on getting an alarm when the kid wanders off.
14:16 September 21, 2011 by Twiceshy
That is where the next step comes at, surgically implanted GPS transmitters.
14:25 September 21, 2011 by Abe L
The option of hiring more capable staff that doesn't loose children to begin with wasn't available?

Makes you wonder how teachers kept track of their kids before GPS.
14:47 September 21, 2011 by skogsbo
what's wrong with the using the Mark 1 eyeball, knowing where the kids are is great, but it won't stop them getting hurt within the school bounds, plus the staff could actually do some purposeful play with the kids, rather than let them just run loose.
17:11 September 21, 2011 by dolphin, the
This will just reinforce the parents frustration and tells us those employed to take care of our kids are not capable of doing their job.
20:25 September 21, 2011 by Gamla Hälsingebock
That doesn't sit well with me either, I think it's a cover-up for poor job performance.

They can find the child after a problem has occurred, meaning the child is already away and could be in danger.
00:02 September 22, 2011 by lovedealer76
The GPS is just an aaditional security,i personally don't think it will change their normal daycare practice
04:30 September 22, 2011 by sjuttiosjusköterskorpåsjukhuset
My, how robotized Swedish preschoolers are these days. The last story I read concerning preschoolers out here was the one in which they are punching time clocks/cards in northern Sweden. These children here look like little Yield signs. I question what the psychological effect will be on preschoolers dressed in fluorescent attire and are being overly protected. And I ask what the "penalties" are for a small child who ventures off from the "acceptable" radius while teacher/aide is not doing their job and is on yet another "cigarette break?"
06:59 September 22, 2011 by krrodman
Solve one problem - Create another one.

Yes, the GPS will allow easy tracking by the teachers.

Unfortunately, it will allow easy tracking by anyone with knowledge of the tracking signal IDs, including any "bad guy" with less than good intentions.
06:02 September 23, 2011 by cattie
I know why they need GPS. Stop by your child's dagis unexpectedly and you will find out also.
15:31 September 23, 2011 by tadchem
GPS is proliferating everywhere. In the US all vehicles manufactured by General Motors have GPS chips implanted, and they log data which can be made available to police. Most new cell phones have them. Some stores are considering installing them in the electric carts provided for the convenience of handicapped shoppers.

If a GPS makes sense to control theft of a US$10,000 cart, it certainly makes sense to protect the life of a child.
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