RFID Children Safety Network

RFID_Child_safetyIn 2007, after 3 years old British girl Madeleine McCann was missing in Portugal, the UK media evoked a discussion on how to protect the children’s safety. A numbers of mobile network operators also started providing some new services, such as Kids OK mobile phone tracking, i-Kids and Teddy – fone to enable parents to track their children by mobile phone through GPRS. At the same time, the application of RFID technology on children’s safety has been introduced by several companies. However, due to high prices and limited scope of application, it has not been widely used.

At Far East, as a result of increasing crimes, the RFID technology in the field of children’s safety has been recognized and applied.

In South Korea, Daejeon known as “technology city”, started a project called “safety net for children” in 2008. The project was about to embed a RFID tag at each student’s school bag from 10 selected schools in Daejeon. A RFID reader is provided at every school gate. When students are in and out of school, the automatic cognitive process will send parents a SMS.  Then parents will be able to know their child is in the school or on the way home. Similarly, at a Japanese city Osaka, the Department of Education chose a school as an example: the students’ school bags were embedded with RFID tags , so that their parents can track them in and out of school.

In China, there is no action yet from the government to promote RFID technology on children’s safety issue, but the author believes there will be a very large market for RFID technology on children’s safety in China. The reasons are:

1_ Base on China’s 1.3 billion populations, the number of school students is high. According to 2003 survey, there are 425,800 primary schools in China, and 15 million school-age children.

2_Due to the unbalanced economic development in China, the public security level is “less than satisfactory”. In May 2007, a program called “social visibility” (Phoenix Satellite Television) reported 20 million children went missing in China every year ,and 60 million children have not been found yet.

3_Since one-child policy started in China, it has been 30 years. It resulted that most of the school-age children is the only child in family, and more likely is that student’s parents are also the only child from their families, which means that this child is the hope of three families. In these families, it is believed that children’s safety is always the first priority, and parents would not mind to pay anything for their children’s safety.

4_ Telecommunications industry is well developed in China. The SMS cost can be as much cheaper as possible.

However, popularizing a technology is a long process. The only shortcut might be obtaining the support from government. For example, in the United States, it is required that the production of all children’s products (specifically refers to all products for children under the age of 13) and its package must be embedded a permanent “track label” from 14th August, 2009 (Chapter 103, “Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act”). This is an good example and indicate that governments have been aware that RFID technology in the field of children’s safety can play a more important role.

Perhaps one day when the Chinese Government promulgates the similar rule for children’s safety, it is a signal for a rapid development of RFID technology in China.

For all RFID companies, however, they cannot just wait for the signal.