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Swedish Daycare Tracks Kids With GPS Devices 125

Posted by timothy
from the girl-who-kicked-the-reflective-vest dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A daycare center in Sweden is testing a new system for that will prevent missing children by placing GPS tracking devices on kids while they are outside of the confines of the nursery walls. The transmitters will report to a synced mobile phone, alarming teachers if a child moves out of a certain distance. The tracking devices clip easily to reflective vests that the children of the Malmoe daycare wear when outside of the school."
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Swedish Daycare Tracks Kids With GPS Devices

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  • Is a real problem for Swedish daycares? How many Swedish children go missing from daycare every year? Wouldn't it be more cost effective to, you know, hire attentive teachers to watch the kids in the first place so they don't escape?
    • Attentive teachers cause recurring costs, GPS trackers only have a setup fee.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "The tracking devices clip easily to reflective vests..." therefore they unclip easily and can be left on the ground as someone grabs the kid and puts them into a van. Unless the collar is "locked" around the neck that kids are still going to be stolen.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          "The tracking devices clip easily to reflective vests..." therefore they unclip easily and can be left on the ground as someone grabs the kid and puts them into a van. Unless the collar is "locked" around the neck that kids are still going to be stolen.

          Uhm.. I don't know how things are where you live but as a Swede I find it waaaay more likely that the children might get lost in the woods on a field trip or similiar than someone trying to steal them for whatever purpose.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Being Swedish, I can ensure you that kidnapping is not the major concern here. There is a big cultural difference between Sweden and USA regarding leaving your kids unattended, as seen here: http://news.yahoo.com/swedish-woman-left-baby-outside-restaurant-investigated-152033738.html [yahoo.com]. In this case, I think they just want to make sure the sure the children don't run away, as they are not staffed enough to keep track of all of them all the time.

        • Yeah, I'm thinking some kind of thick metal collar, with say, a lock that holds it on.

          Something straight out movies depicting 16th and 17th prisons...

    • Wouldn't it be more cost effective to, you know, hire attentive teachers to watch the kids in the first place so they don't escape?

      Are you seriously suggesting that there is some 'error-prone' people out there ? If you had 10 teachers per child you would still have a chance of one of them going missing. This one is a pretty good idea, when outside be sure to get a warning if a child is close to escaping...

    • by myspys (204685) *

      Malmö is the most crimeridden place is Sweden, which might explain this move

      • How did my generation manage to grow up in the 70s and 80s without getting abducted every second day and constantly being ass-raped? I mean, we had no cell phones, no GPS - we should be dead by now, shouldn't we?
        • Some of you are.

          And that's only valid if the number of abductors and rapists hasn't increased. Hasn't it?

          • And that's only valid if the number of abductors and rapists hasn't increased. Hasn't it?

            Has it?

          • by aliquis (678370)

            I agree with the other answer:
            "Has it?"

            Afaik things like murder supposedly haven't increased. I don't know about all crimes.

            I don't really see how those kids being immigrants or Malmoe having a high crime rate matters much either. Kidnapped in the later case but how often do kids get kidnapped? Sure there's more immigrants there but do they walk away more than ancestral Swedish kids?

          • by Carewolf (581105)

            Of course it hasn't increased. Crime-rate continues to go down, and are like always at the lowest point in the life-span of humanity. On top of that Sweden is a much more safe place than most countries.

            • Of course it hasn't increased. Crime-rate continues to go down, and are like always at the lowest point in the life-span of humanity. On top of that Sweden is a much more safe place than most countries.

              Citation needed (on the first claim). And even with a citation, why expect reported crime rates to even correlate with the rate of committed crimes?

            • Actually, not anymore. The FDA has recently announced that Swedes are toxic if ingested or inhaled, with an LD50 of 1.3 and 8.9 respectively.
        • Some of your generation were abducted and constantly ass-raped, you just don't know it because (I'm guessing) you were fortunate enough not to live in a place where it was common. Such things are more common in less privileged areas and among people who basically are isolated--repeat runaway teens are at high risk, for example. Look into reports on domestic human trafficking.

          • Sure - you are right on all accounts. Some of this generation will be abducted, too - but will putting them on a GPS leash change any of that? And even if, is it worth it to destroy every last bit of trust between parents and kids by constant monitoring?
            • Since the article only referred to kids in daycare I'm guessing that these kids either don't know or care much. Think little kids.
              • by migla (1099771)

                Exactly. They don't know, yet. So, we must make sure they learn to love Big Brother.

                • by Anonymus (2267354)

                  So 5 year olds should have the freedom to wander off and not be tracked? What the hell is wrong with you people?

                  • by migla (1099771)

                    So 5 year olds should have the freedom to wander off and not be tracked? What the hell is wrong with you people?

                    I think you misunderstand. Obviously, you can not not be a bit of a despot when it comes to caring for children. We must, for example, restrict their freedom to run into the busy street because we know better than them.

                    I'm saying that I think there is a possibility that having gps clips on kids may be conditioning them to Big Brother earlier in their life than not having gps clips on them.

                    I haven't thought enough about this to definately make up my mind about if I think the benefits outweigh potential cultu

                    • by migla (1099771)

                      ps. I don't blame you for not reading my mind and being able to glean any true intent from the hyperbolic snarcasm of my comment.

        • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)
          Because way too many people are way too paranoid. Probably stems from watching too much Nancy Grace.
      • Except that for an abductor it would be trivial to remove that GPS device. I'm sure if criminals had been the issue, they would not have made it public.

      • by elander (561476) *
        No, it isn't. That is still Stockholm. Lies don't become facts just because they are reported by Fox News and other media outlets.
    • You would have to hire one teacher per child, and handcuff each pair together, to solve the issue - so, are you willing to pay the full rate of that teacher for your child?

      Shit happens, kids get out of your sight when you take your attention from then for a second or two, belt and braces sometimes simply costs too much for there to still be a viable service, so make your decisions... GPS or quite a few grand more per year for your solution?

      • by GNious (953874)

        You would have to hire one teacher per child, and handcuff each pair together, to solve the issue

        Simples: Daisy Chain! [wikipedia.org]

      • by sjames (1099)

        I'm fine with the GPS, but when I was that age we had 2 teachers and a fence to keep us from wandering off. It worked fine.

    • by bre_dnd (686663)
      Monthly salary for a teaching assistant in Sweden: 19 500 Swedish kronor = 2 835.456 U.S. dollars

      (source: http://www.thelocal.se/discuss/index.php?showtopic=14142 [thelocal.se])

      Cost of GPS widget: 25 U.S. dollars

      (source: http://www.focalprice.com/ERW21B/Mini_GPS_Personal_Locator_Tracking_Device_Black.html?utm_source=CS&utm_medium=GM_UK&utm_campaign=CS_GM_UK_ERW21B [focalprice.com])

      If it saves 2 hours a year per child (2835 / month ~= 100 a day ~= US$ 25 for 2 hrs) , it's worth it.

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      I see you'e never looked after more than a couple of children at a time.

      Don't let the shock of the real world overwhelm you though if you ever actually go outside.

      While this seems like an overly precautionary stance to take, the idea that a teacher who loses a child from a class group is "inattentive" is simply disingenuous.

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      Or use old tech, you know, called 'a fence' which doesn't need batteries and it also keeps the pervs out.

      • by Thiez (1281866)

        So you would prefer to be imprisoned rather than wear a tracking device?

      • by Anonymus (2267354)

        That's a great idea, we'll build the fence on wheels so that when the class goes into public (like the entire point of this article) it can follow them around.

    • by bakuun (976228)
      It's really meant to be an additional safety net when groups with young children are out on excursions, e.g. in the forest. Such groups would have a number of adult daycare staff along and the risk that a child would wander off without anybody noticing is very small, but the consequences if it happens could be large. It has happened before, with tragic consequences, both in Sweden and elsewhere. A transmitter, attached to the reflective vest that the child wears (while these transmitters are only tested in
    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      In theory that's a good idea. How do you judge an attentive teacher? By the number of kids they've lost.? 1-5 means attentive, 6-10 means poor 10+ don't hire?

      My mother ran a large daycare in the 80s. She gave it up when one toddler was brought in from the parking lot by some parents coming to pick up their kid. Nothing bad happened but it very well could have. She was not willing to risk it from then on. No matter how good you think those teachers are you just don't know.

    • by Carewolf (581105)

      No, it is not a real problem.

      They are just ehm.. "thinking of the children"..

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Kids move quickly, are quiet, and devious. While an "attentive" teacher is distracted by one or some, others may act.

      Track 'em and don't pretend there's a reason not to.

  • GPS is going a little far

    • by hedwards (940851)

      I don't personally see any issue with it, provided that they're still being looked after and the devices are removed when they go home. It's not just children walking off, it's the one offs that nobody sees coming.

      The main concern I would have would be complacency that can come from having a back up.

      Personally, I'd be fine with this if I had kids in daycare.

    • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Saturday September 24, 2011 @11:29AM (#37501936)

      If I am in charge of, and responsible for, another persons child - you can bet your fucking arse I am going to use every means possible to ensure that my own arse is not on the line for losing that child.

      Children wander off - take your eye off them for a second and they are gone, they are worse than cats in that regard. And if they wander off, they can become vulnerable. Every child care place I know of have bars or very high walls around the play grounds, tightly securable windows, and double security doors on the entrances - not to mention all of the CCTV in place. Why do they have this? Because losing a child in your care is a serious issue, with potentially criminal consequences.

      GPSing the kids? What are the actual downsides? Really, what are they? Tracking where the kid goes is an invasion of their privacy? Well you should be doing that anyway, GPS just helps you do that.

      • If I am in charge of, and responsible for, another persons child - you can bet your fucking arse I am going to use every means possible to ensure that my own arse is not on the line for losing that child.

        Children wander off - take your eye off them for a second and they are gone, they are worse than cats in that regard. And if they wander off, they can become vulnerable. Every child care place I know of have bars or very high walls around the play grounds, tightly securable windows, and double security doors on the entrances - not to mention all of the CCTV in place. Why do they have this? Because losing a child in your care is a serious issue, with potentially criminal consequences.

        GPSing the kids? What are the actual downsides? Really, what are they? Tracking where the kid goes is an invasion of their privacy? Well you should be doing that anyway, GPS just helps you do that.

        I do not want to live where you live... Admittedly it's been more than two decades since I was in daycare, but all we had were low gates that were difficult for small children to open, and I haven't seen any daycare centers that look like prisons yet in Sweden thankfully...

      • What are the actual downsides? Really, what are they?

        Nothing conjures up cost-is-no-object solutions like a high-impact threat to a three year old. The unspoken "cost," of course, is that our children are growing up in a climate of fear: They spend more time sitting indoors or being hovered over by helicopter parents ... but they are "safe" ... and putting on weight ... and failing to develop healthy social, physical, and problem-solving skills.

        Safety isn't as safe as we think it is.

        • by Eivind (15695)

          And while on the order of 0.2 kids/year end up dead as a result of wandering off from childcare, 20% of all deaths are caused by insufficient physical activity.

          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            So the GPS kills two birds with one stone. The kids are easy to find if you do lose one and it's a lot easier to take them outside to play.

            A little GPS tag isn't a climate of fear either. It's not an antikidnapping measure or anything silly like that.

            • by neyla (2455118)

              The GPS may reduce (not prevent, they're not infallible) something which is *already* low enough risk to be essentially a non-issue.

              It's not cost-effective. There's on the order of half a million kids in kindergarten in Sweden, Buying a tracker-thingy may only cost $100, but that still adds up to $50 million (plus whatever the data-plan for these cost, they must have some kind of connectivity for transmitting the position)

              $50 million to save on the order of 0.2 kids a year, is $250 million pro saved life.

              Ev

              • by ceoyoyo (59147)

                So? People do all kinds of non-cost effective things, particularly where their kids are concerned. If the daycare finds that having these things makes their customers happy and doesn't hurt the kids, what do you care?

        • The unspoken "cost," of course, is that our children are growing up in a climate of fear: They spend more time sitting indoors or being hovered over by helicopter parents ... but they are "safe" ... and putting on weight ... and failing to develop healthy social, physical, and problem-solving skills.

          Ironically, at least taking your persthe GPS devices might help in this regard. It wouldn't interfere with their behavior but it would alert the adults if they wandered off too far. It actually makes it easier

          • The stupid slashdot editor previewed one thing and posted another. Sorry for the jumbled first sentence.

        • by Jeremi (14640)

          The unspoken "cost," of course, is that our children are growing up in a climate of fear: They spend more time sitting indoors or being hovered over by helicopter parents ... but they are "safe" ... and putting on weight ... and failing to develop healthy social, physical, and problem-solving skills.

          Perhaps the benefit of GPS trackers would be that we could then relax the other, more stifling measures a bit. For example, if you know you can instantly locate your kids at any time, you might be less reluctant to let them play outside.

        • by tftp (111690)

          The unspoken "cost," of course, is that our children are growing up in a climate of fear: They spend more time sitting indoors or being hovered over by helicopter parents

          Well, the "good old" method, so popular 200-300 years ago, was that a peasant family makes 5 to 10 children, and if one or two die (as they were likely to, for various reasons) then it was just God's will and nothing could be done about it, and nobody would be overly concerned.

          Can you sell an idea today that a child could wander off, f

      • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)
        When you gonna let the kids grow up my paranoid friend?

        Life isn't safe, never was. Too many people think that abductions and abuse is something invented in the 80's or 90's, but its been around forever.

        I see the results of this over protection every day. Young people who don't know how to act after they get away from home in college. Acting out in a way that they should have done when they were 14 or 15. Why? because their parents, as part of keeping them safe, didn't give them a free moment, let them h

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      No. They're in jail. They're not allowed to leave.

  • Because monitoring every move of a kid can not backfire in any conceivable way. Right...
    Isn't this whole tracking people thing going a bit too far already?

    • Kids in daycare were already supposed to be monitored constantly. Adding the GPS just prevents human error.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... I had a dog tag. So if found, returning to parents would be easy. It did get returned, found in a bush.

    Personally I'm not against using technology for this. It does bring risks, and those must be dealt with properly. For example, like you can already "wardrive" around for wireless CCTV cams broadcasting their picture around, one could perhaps hijack these devices. The usual assumption is that this security thing has been taken care of properly, it's on the market, innit? But that usually isn't true at a

    • by hedwards (940851)

      The problem with dog tags and bracelets is that they only work if the child is found by somebody. These sorts of GPS devices allow you to find the child. They aren't perfect, but they do greatly reduce the search area if a child goes missing. They can be fooled or removed, but they're still quite a bit more likely to result in a child being found in good condition.

    • ... I had a dog tag.

      That's why I recommend dog leashes for kids instead. Put a big stake in the middle of the schoolyard and tie 'em all up. Use bungee jumping cable, so they can slingshot and slam each other around a bit.

      It's a bit of a pain untangling them after playtime, though.

      • by Uzuri (906298)

        Why untangle? Just bring 'em all in in a big clump. They'll sit still better for afternoon lessons.

  • Now you can finally know who is the fastest around the playground tricycle track!

  • It's not just one preschool, but over a hundred, and it's been going on for at least a couple of years. This is just one school that's testing it. The Data Inspection Board (Datainspektionen) is investigating whether it complies with Swedish privacy laws.

    The general reaction to this among the Swedish public (as I gather from papers and other forums) is that the real problem is that there are too few teachers per child in daycare, and many don't like it, although some do see it somewhat safer than just relyi

    • by danomac (1032160)

      Wouldn't that also mean others (i.e. other than the daycare staff) would/could know the location of the kids if they left the daycare? I can't see how that could be considered a good idea.

      If staffing is that short they have to add new staff. Technology can't solve all problems.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Presumably they're not allowed to take their stylish reflective orange vests home with them.

  • by SEWilco (27983)
    Do the devices unclip easily?
  • When you're building any sort of security system the very first thing you need to do is decide what your threat model is. Then when you think about a solution you need to assess it against that model to see how it performs. If the threat here is kidnapping, the solution is useless since the bad guys will remove the tag. This solution is only ever going to help against "wandering" kids, but if the teachers think that the kids can't wander off then they are likely to pay less attention, which is means the kid

    • It's not the threat model, it's the business model that drives it. Parents are nervous people: the most precious thing in the world is their child. People generally overrate the threat of serious crime/ abduction. So if you can announce that your kindergarten not only has lots of lovely high trained staff *but also* shiny technology to protect the precious children, then you might get more parents sending their children to your kindergarten rather than the one down the road.

      For the kindergarten it is a cost

      • by GNious (953874)

        I got a mental image while reading your post: Automated foam-missile turrets of the office-toys type, with the missiles replaced with tazers - brand new child-protection effort to show we take security serious. For some reason, those super-imposed on the memory of the daycare my first-born went to, did not scare/concern me....

    • by bakuun (976228)
      They are certainly not meant to protect against kidnapping, but rather against children wandering off during excursions. I don't think any staff would somehow get the idea that the children now "can't wander off" any longer. It's just another layer to the safety net.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 24, 2011 @11:43AM (#37502018)

    Saw this on the news a day or two ago.
    It's worth noting that this daycare is a kind of all-weather-daycare, ie. outside activities the entire day, every day. Keeping track of kids in the forrest is not the same as regular daycare. The GPS beeps and warns when a kid goes outside the geo fence, and apparently the teachers felt that it was a second layer of security besides constantly counting kids, wich is what they are doing atm.

  • From Aliens... "Man their all around us but I don't see them! We're surrounded!!" Marines then think to look up. Children with acid for drool start dropping from the ceiling and chasing the daycare marines.
    • by xclr8r (658786)
      they're not their.. and yes I know that the Aliens Space Marines were not using gps.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I work for Whistler Blackcomb ski resort in Whistler, British Columbia. We've been using a GPS system to track kids in Ski School since 2009. I don't work in Ski School myself, but this is a massive resort and its incredibly easy for experienced riders to get seperated from there group. So as an instructor I imagine that despite your best efforts to keep your group together, if a student (kids as young as 5) got seperated from the group being able to call into dispatch and get a location would be a pretty h

  • Not a big deal!!! (Score:4, Informative)

    by lavagolemking (1352431) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @01:27PM (#37502792)
    FTA:

    The system is not in anyway meant to replace teachers or aids, but to simply enhance their watchful eyes and increase safety. Although it cannot prevent a child from running off, it can provide an alert to chaperones, who are outnumbered by their students.

    I am the last person to defend GPS technology, or any of this other Orwellian bullshit that seems to be the norm, but this is a non-story loaded with buzzwords that the submitter knew would immediately rile us up (it was enough to get me to RTFA, at least...). The technology is being used to supplement the daycare staff's supervision, and alert them early on when a child takes off. This clip-on is not going to prevent the child from intentionally running off, and an abductor will just remove it (if he's not an idiot as some are). However, if the child wanders off -- which believe me it happens all the time -- they can find him/her more quickly and not risk another child getting lost in the time spend looking for the first one.

    Looking after maybe 1 or 2 children and this is going to happen sometimes. Looking after several dozen and this kind of solution seems practical. It's not like they're implanting something in the children to monitor their every move at home or initiate them into our totalitarian surveillance state of fear or what have you. Yes it has controversies (what is the GPS company going to do with the data? how hard would it be for some predator to intercept the data stream?), but not on the scale that the submitter has everyone worried about. Congratulations, you all have been trolled.

    • but not on the scale that the submitter has everyone worried about. Congratulations, you all have been trolled.

      Yeah, TFS chose the wrong article to link to this week. He wanted the one about Rhode Island [naturalnews.com].

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @01:48PM (#37502984) Homepage

    The article link is to a scraper site that runs most of the major ad networks, from Amazon to DoubleClick to Fox. Slashdot's "editors" have been had. Again.

    The article was scraped from Physorg, which scraped it from Google News, which obtained it from Agence France-Presse. [google.com]

    This is a commercial product called "ChildChecker", from Purple Scout. [purplescout.com]

  • From now Swedish kids need to buy portbale gps jammers

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