What images spring to mind when the topic of "people monitoring" – meaning the monitoring and tracking of individuals – comes up?
Celebrities wearing ankle cuffs under house arrest?
Wandering Alzheimer's patients? Missing children?
The extreme mountaineer trapped on the side of a mountain somewhere?
Prison release programs?
All of the above?
Just last week, I noticed three police cars at one of the homes in my neighborhood. It's a quiet area, so the flashing blue lights were a strange sight to see. One of the officers informed me that a 10 year-old boy had gone missing, but they had found him following a 20-minute search. Certainly good news, but it immediately made me think of the people-tracking capabilities now made possible with M2M technology.
Nearly one million people are reported missing each year, costing taxpayers more than $1 billion annually in missing-person searches. Years ago, the faces of the missing would end up on television screens or on the back of a milk carton. But in today's world of ubiquitous wireless coverage, tracking and monitoring a person's whereabouts in real-time can save both lives and precious public resources.
There are many instances where tracking and monitoring an individual is a necessary safety measure. For instance, 60% of Alzheimer's patients wander away from their caregivers or homes according to the Alzheimer's Association – doing the math that is 3 million people in the United States alone at a significant cost to society.
In addition to the challenges with the ever-growing elderly population, thousands of Amber Alerts are issued each year, where children disappear and authorities have no means of locating them. Not all of these missing children stories end as quickly and happily as in my personal example above.
It is the fear of these worst-case-scenario circumstances that has driven the adoption of more child and Alzheimer tracking devices. Parents and caregivers enjoy the added security of being able to quickly and accurately locate loved ones on a computer screen or smartphone. And it is advances in M2M networks and devices combined with affordable monthly rate plans that have made this a reality.
So contrary to the pop culture perspective of tracking devices strictly being used on misbehaving celebrities, this is where personal security extends well beyond "privacy."
Tracking devices, like the sample image seen here, can come in small wearable devices that often blend in and are virtually unnoticeable to a passerby. For instance, child-tracking devices often look like a small wrist watch. Once activated, these devices contact emergency officials, providing the exact location of the individual to aid in their safe recovery. Leveraging wireless cellular M2M technology, these devices can often locate a missing person regardless of if they are inside a building or under a structure.
We often hear about fleet management and telehealth applications based on M2M technologies, but the significant "security" benefits provided by simple, cost-effective people-tracking applications can provide piece-of-mind for parents, caregivers and law enforcement alike.
KORE is proud that our M2M network powers a number of these people-tracking applications, helping save lives, time and money with convenient and reliable tracking and monitoring solutions worldwide.
By Felix Chuang, Senior Product Manager
Felix Chuang is Senior Product Manager at KORE Telematics, an industry leader in the Machine-to-Machine (M2M) wireless market. He has more than fifteen years of experience in the Internet and wireless industries in a broad range of roles such as product management, business development, and operations. He is currently focused on the KORE Global Connect product line, which provides a single SIM for M2M network service in 180+ countries and 230+ carriers.
He can be found on twitter at: @felixc and KORE Telematics can be found at: @koretelematics