Monthly Archives: September 2011

War Zone GPS Trackers for Humanitarian Missions

Humanitarian missions lead by the United Nations or NGOs have been extremely active in providing healthcare and food to civilian populations in war zones. Advancements in telecommunications and positioning technology have always found many early adopters among the U.N. staff and volunteer workers who use them for logistical purposes. GPS tracking technology has, for example, had major roles to play in many of the recent conflicts, notably in Iraq and Somalia.

During periods of intense conflict, the areas which needed the most help were restricted to U.N staff for security reasons. Unable to be present on the field, U.N. volunteers were able to provide their services with the help of Iraqi nationals.
4,000 local “facilitators” were directed remotely by U.N members and many GPS trackers were given to those groups of facilitators. Operating from Jordan during the first 5 years of the Iraq conflict, the humanitarian workers were still able to monitor and guide in real-time hundreds of Iraqi humanitarian operations inside the country.
GPS trackers were used to deploy help in the areas that needed it most, to follow the movements of refugees and to pinpoint on a GPS tracking map the exact position of all the devices even in the most remote and dangerous areas.

While using GPS trackers does evidently not replace the need for humanitarian helpers providing direct food or first aid to displaced populations, they can always increase the effectiveness of humanitarian operations overall. Personal or vehicle tracking with international outdoors capabilities are only a few of the benefits that GPS trackers can offer for humanitarian/military use.

The Guide Dog’s Best Friend: The Trekker Breeze

Remember when you were younger and wondered what it would be like to be blind? I recall the first time I heard the story of Helen Keller and spent time on the playground, eyes closed, trying to figure out what it would be like. I determined it was not easy, and couldn’t imagine living each day not being able to see the beauty in the world around me.

Of course, I didn’t think about the fact that we live in a world more advanced than the world that Hellen Keller lived in. When I was growing up, guide dogs were available, providing eyes for those that could not use theirs. In a mere 20 years, we have come even farther thanks to a company called HumanWare. The technology they offer for the visually impaired or blind would knock the socks off of Helen Keller.
Trekker Breeze, launched in 2008, is a talking GPS tracking device purported to bring high tech to more of the visually impaired population by making it the most affordable device of its kind on the market ($895). Not only can the device lead the blind to their favorite places, it can also help them discover new places without fear of getting lost using the “What’s Around” feature.
The device will tell someone when they come to an intersection and what streets are intersecting, and also “point out” landmarks along the way. The user can easily get back to where he/she came from and save the route traveled in the event they need to travel it again.
Leader Dogs for the Blind is using the Trekker Breeze in their classes offered for people new to using a guide dog. This is a winning combination, as there may be new obstacles each day on the same path. Maybe there’s a bike locked to a bike rack that wasn’t there yesterday, or part of the sidewalk is being repaired. The GPS device won’t know this, but the dog will. The Trekker Breeze is merely another tool, to be used along with a guide dog, to ensure autonomy for the visually impaired. After all, a dog cannot tell you where the closest grocery store is.

Shy? This App Will Flirt For You

Skout.com, the leading flirting app recently appointed their first CFO, Portia Kersten. Skout has over 6 million members and is the leader in “GPS flirting.” GPS flirting uses a person’s location to allow singles to meet up. People can use this GPS flirting app to connect with others in their proximity.
Singles can say goodbye to dating methods of the past and manage their love lives from their cell phones. Skout opens the door for people to flirt and meet up in a new and unique way. What used to take days or even weeks to set up can be accomplished in just a few minutes with Skout.

Family and personal relationships GPS Tracking NewsPublished September 30, 2011 at 6:51 am No Comments
Skout.com, the leading flirting app recently appointed their first CFO, Portia Kersten. Skout has over 6 million members and is the leader in “GPS flirting.” GPS flirting uses a person’s location to allow singles to meet up. People can use this GPS flirting app to connect with others in their proximity.
Singles can say goodbye to dating methods of the past and manage their love lives from their cell phones. Skout opens the door for people to flirt and meet up in a new and unique way. What used to take days or even weeks to set up can be accomplished in just a few minutes with Skout.

This app allows users to meet people who live in their own area and even frequent the same places that they do. No matter what they’re doing around town, singles can use Skout to search for a love connection. Skout protects the user’s exact location, while showing other users nearby.
For safety reasons, Skout doesn’t reveal exact street addresses, so users have to send this information through instant messages.
Kersten is very experienced in maximizing the growth and revenue of companies, and the company is very excited to have her join the team. CEO Christian Wiklund is excited for the new growth that the company will experience with Kersten’s added expertise.
Kersten previously worked at AdInfuse, Inc. as CFO. While there, she helped the company grow into the 500-person mobile marketing technology company that it is today. She always worked as CFO of TeeBeeDee, a social networking company, and as Vice President of corporate development at PlanetOut.
Skout has been featured by many different media venues, including ABC News, Fox News, Good Morning America, The New York Times, NBC, CNN, and The LA Times.

GPS Used to Track Liver Transplant Recipient in the Nick of Time

There has been a lot of controversy in the media lately regarding GPS tracking technology. Most of these stories involve questionable use of the technology by police, in order to gather evidence or apprehend a suspect. All authorities need is a cell phone number, and if the phone has GPS tracking enabled, as so many modern phones do, the phone’s location can be traced with incredible speed and accuracy.
Many people enjoy the technology for personal use, to find directions or track their running times. However, people tend to feel differently about the police or Apple tracking their movements. That is, unless it’s used to save their life.David Simon, a 56-year-old St. Louis resident, has GPS tracking technology and the initiative of St. Charles emergency dispatchers to thank for his life. He had been suffering from liver cancer and badly needed a transplant.
His doctors estimated that if he didn’t receive a transplant in the next four weeks, he probably wouldn’t survive. After much time spent anxiously awaiting that life-saving call, Simon and his wife decided to take a vacation to Osaga Beach.
When you’re waiting for an organ transplant, timing is critical. Hospitals don’t know when an organ will be available, so they advise patients on the waiting list to say close to the hospital and always near their phones. When Simon’s liver became available, his phone was in another room, where he couldn’t hear it.
St. Louis University Hospital sent dispatchers to Simon’s house in a desperate effort to find him, and eventually learned that he and his wife were in Osage Beach. Unfortunately, they didn’t have an address. St. Charles emergency dispatchers used his phone number to track his GPS location, and were able to rush him to the hospital in the nick of time. David Simon reported to ksdk.com news that he was feeling “A lot, lot better. Emotionally and physically.”

Parents: Protect Your Child’s Location Information

Smartphones are quickly becoming more prevalent, even among school children. As amazing as these devices are, one must take steps to assure that only the data you wish to share is available to prying eyes.
Take, for instance, a picture taken with an iPhone. Let’s say that your daughter has an iPhone and after school, snaps a photo of herself with her best friend. Later that day, she uploads it to her Flickr account to share with her friends on Facebook and other social media sites. If you didn’t know this already, pay close attention: her smartphone may be leading the wrong people right to her by tagging her location in the photo using GPS coordinates. ‘
Now, a stranger can use special software to determine exactly where she goes to school just by accessing the photo. There are even programs that take the photo and convert it to a map, pinpointing the child’s exact location down to the very room they reside in within their own home.
The solution: assure that your child’s phone has the GPS function turned off. Each phone is different, but all have this capability. Before arming your child with such sophisticated technology, parents should research exactly what the phone is capable of doing to ensure the safety of their child. The parent should also educate their child about the dangers of such technology in the hopes that they will use the phone responsibly and safely.

Is the FBI ‘friending’ you?

Best Opinion:  HNS News, Economist, InfoWorld

Like many of us, the FBI and four other federal law enforcement agencies have embraced social networking. The difference is that the Feds are “friending” people under fake names and profiles in order to collect information, without a warrant, about possible crimes — meaning a Facebook status update or MySpace photo shared with friends could potentially land you in jail. Are we careening toward the end of privacy? (Watch a CNN report about online cyber squads on social networking sites)

The Feds need to respect boundaries: No doubt Facebook and MySpace “can be very handy when investigating a crime,” says Zeljka Zorz at Help Net Security News, but letting online G-men snoop around undercover without a warrant or any oversight is a recipe for abuse. We need to set up and enforce rules for federal undercover Facebooking.
“Feds on social networks: What can they do?”

The FBI’s just taking advantage of stupid crooks: Personally, “I have no problem with this kind of snooping,” says The Economist. If criminals are dumb enough to give themselves away in a Facebook status update or photo, they get what they deserve. So teens, if “an online ‘friend’ asks if there will be booze at your birthday party, just say no.”
“Stupid criminals and Facebook”

This flap just underlines the new rules of the game: Government agents infiltrating your Facebook network is merely the latest “affront to our personal data,” says Robert X. Cringely in InfoWorld. But there’s hope: Facebook, Netflix, and Google Buzz have all reconsidered privacy-endangering moves in the face of public outrage. Either way, you’ve now been warned: “The social networking honeymoon is officially over,” so share at your own risk.
“The FBI on Facebook: Watching every move you make”

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SEE MORE COVERAGE OF FACEBOOK:
• Facebook vs. Italy
• ‘Unfriend’: Word of the year?

How GPS Devices Could Keep Your Child Safe

Most people are fairly well schooled on how GPS tracking systems are used at the business and consumer levels. From the business perspective, companies involved in manufacturing, distribution, construction or essentially any field can use both real-time tracking devices or data loggers for fleet vehicle management, mileage summation or checking up on a potential slacking worker. From the consumer prospective, spouses with the hunch their partner may be involved in an affair, family members with an aging and forgetful parent or parents of young drivers can use live tracking units or passive GPS trackers to help improve safety or validate concerns.What many people are unaware of is that their is growing market in the area of child tracking systems, meaning GPS trackers designed specifically for the protection of children.
GPS Offers Parents Digital Eye Over Wandering Kids
So what exactly is a child tracking system, and what can the monitoring devices really do for parents?
GPS tracking systems have vastly improved over the past 5 years, resulting is most GPS solutions being engineered to be smaller than a cellular phone or pack of chewing gum. The real-time GPS personal trackers are simple yet complex pieces of technology that will send the location of the device, allowing anyone with access to the GPS data to see where that person is at. This GPS data, which consists of not only real-time positional/locational information but historical data as well, can be easily viewed by a parent or guardian by simply using a computer, tablet or smart phone with Internet capabilities.
Live GPS monitoring devices made for child tracking follow the same principles as the rugged and durable fleet tracking solutions used by many Fortune 500 companies yet have additional features more specific to the target application of child safety. GPS personal tracking solutions designed for children come in the form of bracelets or portable devices that can be clipped on to a belt strap, placed in a pocket or tossed in a child’s backpack. The small GPS personal tracking device then constantly transmits position, giving parents easy access to their child’s location when they are not around. Special features of child tracking units can include:
1. A panic alert feature that can be pressed by the child to send out a warning that they are in trouble like an electronic call for help.
2. GEO fence alerts that can be set that will notify a parent if a child leaves school, a babysitter’s home or park before.
Likely, it is only a matter of time before it is commonplace that almost all children are wearing GPS personal trackers for increased protection and safety. With so much danger in the world parents need to utilize every possible tool to safeguard their children, and that is exactly what GPS tracking solutions are, a tool to increase child safety.

FTC: Updates to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Created

A growing number of children under the age of 13 are using smartphones, which has prompted the Federal Trade Commission to update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). It was passed in 1998 to protect our children under 13 while online, and is the reason sites like Facebook require users to be over the age of 13 to register.The problem: millions of kids under the age of 13 are still signing up for these accounts, with or without parental consent, by lying about their age. The FTC is trying to make it mandatory for a minor to obtain parental consent to upload a photo to any social media site, and it’s a start. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook has said his site hopes to one day allow those under the age of 13 to register for an account, but this can only happen if privacy laws are adjusted.
There is also discussion by the FTC to forbid the sites designed for children under 13 from using tracking cookies or GPS location data for marketing purposes without first receiving parental consent. The sites can only track “for purposes such as user authentication, improving site navigation, maintaining user preferences, serving contextual advertisements, and protecting against fraud or theft.” Parental consent is only required in situations where the parent is tracking what the child is doing online or “behaviorally targeting advertising to the child.”
The Center for Democracy and Technology commends the FTC for keeping the age restriction at 13 rather than increasing it, as the “proposal respects older minors’ constitutional right to access information without first obtaining parental consent.” This makes it easier on websites as they don’t need to verify the age of users. They do, however, have an issue with a proposal to require ID scans of parents as the form of consent. They fear this will cause parents to think twice, denying consent for fear of a privacy breach.
It is clear that social media use amongst those under the age of 13 is becoming more accepted, as evident in the amount of them on sites such as Facebook. Having a daughter who is 11, I see many of my child’s friends have their own accounts, the majority with parental consent. I, personally, do not allow my daughter to use any social media site. However, as each child is different in their maturity level, who am I to say that some of her friends shouldn’t have an account?
In my opinion, the parent should decide whether or not children should have a social media account. In addition, parents should monitor these accounts closely. That said, I know that there are kids out there that will get an account on Facebook anyway. The proposed changes would make it easier to protect these kids, making it less likely they would have to lie about their age in the first place, and protecting their information from marketers and their image.

California Prisons to Release Select “Mom Prisoners”

In a move to free up space for new prisoners in California State Prisons, officials have decided to allow thousands of mothers to don GPS tracking bracelets and head home, where they will finish up their sentences and care for their families.The court system is forcing prisons to comply to free up space for new prisoners – more than 30,000 must be taken out by July 2013. The move only affects mothers who are due to be released in less than two years. As with other house arrest convicts, not only will a GPS tracking bracelet be mandatory, but these parolees will also have to check in with a parole officer regularly.
There are those who disagree with the move, like the founder of Crime Victims United based in Sacramento, Harriet Salarno. “If they were such great mothers to begin with, they never would have committed the heinous crime that got them sent to prison” Salarno recently told press. She feels foster care is the only viable option for the children left behind by delinquent mothers.
Proponents of the program point out that “family involvement is one of the biggest indicators of an inmate’s rehabilitation,” and feel that it will lessen the chances the children will one day be incarcerated themselves.
In this author’s opinion, releasing mothers from prison is a good one. Not only will this move free up needed prison space, but it will also ensure that children aren’t unnecessarily placed in foster care. Everyone makes mistakes. Additionally, people who are unjustly accused of a crime often wind up in jail. Seemingly, as long as a prisoner is properly monitored while on parole (and complies with all steps required to complete a sentence), the aforementioned program should succeed.
Here’s one more thing to think about: A L.A. County District Attorney has stated that “if properly supported, with the proper amount of supervision, it’s [the program] not a bad idea. Do I have any confidence in state prison officials? Not a whole lot.” Based on this statement, one has to wonder if opponents of the “mom move” program are protesting for the wrong reasons.

Thieves Break Into Apartment While Girls Sleep

Some of these stories are silly while others are just plain amazing. One such article recently came across our news desk. The story takes place in Australia, but it could have happened anywhere in the world.

Three female roommates were sleeping soundly one night. So soundly that they didn’t hear three thieves break into their apartment. As the girls slept, the thieves cleaned out the apartment making away with electronics, iPhones, and even bedroom sheets. When one of the sleeping beauties awoke, she noticed that her apartment was barren. Shocked, she awoke her other roommates.
In a bit of a daze, one of the girls remembered that she had activated the “Find My iPhone” GPS tracking app on her iPhone. A close friend (who was visiting at the time of the robbery), entered the iPhone ID into the online app site. Shortly thereafter, the exact location of the thieves was revealed. The girls contacted authorities and just “…wanted the cops to go bust their door down.”
While the police didn’t “bust down” any doors, authorities did apprehend the thieves after some questioning. The stolen iPhone (and all other stolen goods) were retrieved and given back to the girls who are (incidentally) now looking for a new place to live.
Article Written by Harriette Halepis