Location Services: Keeping Our Kids Safe

Children playing

I’m fortunate to work at a really cool company. When I meet new people and explain the kind of solutions we develop at Quuppa, the next comment – almost without exception – is, “Wow, that sounds great. Can I put this on my kids?”

As the father of two sons, I know from experience that parenting is always about trying to find that perfect balance between freedom and supervision. We want to give our children the space to grow, explore, fail and make mistakes, and we know that one day soon they will have to find their own way in the world without our help. At the same time, we want nothing more than to keep them safe from the countless dangers that we as adults know exist out there.

Enabling Peace of Mind

At Quuppa, we are certain that real-time location systems (RTLS) will become the next ubiquitous enabling technology to enter our lives. If you are reading this, it is likely that you can remember a time 20 years ago. Think of how much has changed, and how connectivity and GPS-based outdoor location have evolved from accessible to available everywhere. Our first-graders are now starting school with their very own smartphones. When was the last time you navigated anywhere with a paper map in your car?

Sure, this development has not been without its challenges (raise your hand if you’ve ever had to limit your kids’ screen time), but if we had a choice, would we go back? I don’t think I would. Knowing that when my kids are home alone or playing outdoors, they can call the emergency services if needed is worth the occasional conflict over whether they get to have Instagram on their phones.

Real-time location is the next step along this path. Put simply, RTLS is to indoors tomorrow what GPS is to the outdoors today. Cost-effective Bluetooth based real-time location opens up a lot of potential for keeping our kids safe and secure. The possibilities extend not only to our everyday lives at home but also to the many activities that we do outside our homes.

More Safety, Less Stress

Some of the most obvious applications of RTLS based safety solutions for kids include amusement parks, shopping centers and indoor play areas. Giving a child a trackable wristband can be an easy and unobtrusive way of letting them move around the area freely, yet being able to find them quickly in case of an emergency.

On a less dramatic level, RTLS can simply make our everyday lives as parents more hassle-free and less stressful. How many times have you had to spend time trying to find your kids in a big indoor playground, knowing you needed to leave right now in order to be on time for your next destination? The kids are having a great time but at this particular moment, the parent certainly isn’t. What if, during your visit to the playground, you could locate your kids in real time on your mobile phone, while simultaneously having peace of mind from knowing that they have not wandered out of the play area? A solution like this would have saved me many headaches when my kids were small.

So to answer the question that I hear so often, yes, we can put this technology on our kids. In many cases, I think it’s a very good idea. In others, we can still get by with good old-fashioned parental responsibility and a little bit of faith in our kids’ capability to take care of themselves. The debate about if, how and when we should track our children is neither simple nor clear-cut, but the potential value is definitely there – and hey, whoever said parenting was supposed to be easy?


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