High-Tech GPS Bracelet Protects Foreign Aid Workers

Dennis Faas's picture

A group dedicated to protecting civil rights has released a high-tech bracelet that can automatically send out a location-based alert if the wearer is kidnapped. However, the organization says it needs financial assistance to protect more workers.

The bracelet is produced by the Sweden-based Civil Rights Defenders group, an independent organization that sends workers into foreign countries to help prevent human rights violations.

The idea for the bracelet came after the 2009 death of Natalia Estermirova in Chechnya. She was kidnapped and later found murdered. The organization believes she was killed within 24 hours of her kidnapping and that she could have been rescued had her location been known earlier. (Source: slashgear.com)

Alert Triggered If Kidnappers Seize Bracelet

A GPS chip in the bracelet can be activated manually by the wearer. However, the design also allows the chip to activate automatically if somebody tries to forcibly remove or damage it.

Each chip can be individually programmed. By default, the alert -- detailing the wearer's location -- will go to the Civil Rights Defenders headquarters.

Public Can Help Spread Word About Kidnaps

However, it's also possible to program the bracelet to send an alert to others. In fact, the bracelets can even post an alert message on Twitter or Facebook. No special equipment, other than an Internet connection, is needed to receive the alert.

Civil Rights Defenders is inviting the public to sign up to receive such alerts in their news feeds and help out by sharing or retweeting calls for help. To promote the idea, Civil Rights Defenders is using the slogan "the world is watching" as a warning to potential troublemakers. (Source: civilrightsdefenders.org)

A message explaining that the bracelet carries an alarm is written clearly on the device, which could also act as a deterrent for potential kidnappers.

Five bracelets have already been distributed but the group hopes to equip 55 workers with bracelets over the next 18 months. However, Civil Rights Defenders' leaders say the group will need public donations to make this possible.

The group hasn't publicly announced how much each bracelet will cost to produce. Since launching an appeal for donations, it has received enough to fund the production of only one more bracelet.

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