The use of GPS tracking technology to help Alzheimer patients is wide spread in Western countries. This technology however tends to be prohibitively expensive for lower income families or developing countries. Furthermore, import and usage restrictions on GPS tracking technology exists in many countries, slowing down the adoption of this technology.
With the Foundation, we are working on making the technology cheaper and working with countries and officials to allow the use of GPS tracking technology for these purposes. This is of sadly a time consuming and lengthy process, but we are making progress in this area.
The technology itself is developed by members of the foundation, and has already seen its first deployments. Once finalized, the foundation will release all materials such as source code, hardware designs, etc. under a permissive Open Source license to further stimulate its use and adoption.
One of the first projects we are using the tracker for besides Alzheimer patients is for tracking of children in areas where kidnappings are frequent. We hope that this will help officials and families to locate missing children faster.
The tracker’s dimensions are kept as small as possible without incurring higher costs.
It is also designed to be build with older equipment (or even fully manually) which means potential defects can be fixed in the country where it is deployed without specialized equipment and minimal training. This also stimulates the ability to manufacture the tracker locally, meaning import not only becomes cheaper, but jobs can be created on the spot.
The software to track the person or asset can be customized. The image below gives a possible vehicle tracking application, with the software running on a Raspberry Pi™.
Objective: Tracking Children
As explained in this news article for example, kidnapping of children for a variety of reasons including organ harvesting is a major problem in many parts of the world. The article links specifically to a case in Algeria, and this is where we want to start using GPS tracking methods to make it easier for parents to monitor their children and allow for faster response should something go wrong. Using geofencing, speed and heading analysis, and all round tracking the goal is to make sure that in the event of a kidnapping the parents and authorities can be alerted as soon as possible, while at the same time provide them with valuable information as to the whereabouts of the victim.
It does not have to be just in the case of a kidnapping. Giving peace of mind to parents about the whereabouts of their children is very valuable in itself. While we limit ourselves initially to children, we will also target tracking of elderly family members, families or individuals traveling, etc. The tracker will be as small as possible, so it can easily be carried in a backpack or bag. Even if it is removed at some point during a kidnapping, it can provide valuable information such as positive location and time/date identification of the crime which can help find witnesses while abnormal routes taken by the child can be eliminated or confirmed.
Objective: Tracking Patients
GPS tracking of elderly people, especially those suffering from Alzheimer is well established in Western countries. We aim to bring the technology to low income families especially in the developing world. Since the tracker itself is easily adapted to this use case, there will be no cost overhead, on the contrary, by being able to increase quantity we can lower the production cost and other overhead. We are currently planning an initial trial project in Latin America.
For both objectives, the next steps (some done in parallel) are as follows:
- Work with local manufacturers to be able to produce trackers on the spot. This will reduce import tariffs while at the same time stimulate local business
- Run trial projects on a small scale to iron out any issues (in progress)
- Translate the software into local languages (in progress)
- Prepare mid-range trial projects invloving the communities at large
- Set up education initiatives to help people understand the technology and how to use it
- Educate local authorities to make them aware of the potential of tracking systems in place
- Work with governmental branches to seek support for wide scale deployments