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Smart Bracelet Will Protect Aid Workers the World Over

by Sean P. Aune | April 7, 2013April 7, 2013 12:00 pm PDT

Civil Rights Defenders Natalia Project bracelet

The Civil Rights Defenders campaign group has developed a bracelet that could keep its workers just a bit safer in danger zones around the world, but how long will it be until everyone wants one?

Founded in Stockholm, Sweden in 1982, the Civil Rights Defenders organization sends workers all over the world to monitor violations of civil rights, monitor elections and more. As the work sometimes takes them to inhospitable environments, the workers are sometimes in danger of being kidnapped or assaulted, and that’s where the new Natalia Project bracelets could play a life saving role.

Named for Chechen rights worker Natalia Estemirova who was kidnapped and murdered in 2009, the Natalia Project bracelets feature both GPS and cellular technologies that can send out alerts should anything untoward befall the worker. Once activated, the bracelet sends out a signal to other nearby aid workers and the main office in Sweden with a message for help along with the last known GPS position of the wearer. It also can be set to send messages to special Facebook and Twitter accounts so anyone can see the messages. The bracelet can also be activated by a forceful removal such as what could happen in an assault.

The intriguing notion here is where else this technology could be put into use. Imagine a version for elderly patients with Alzheimers who may wander away from their care givers. Soldiers in the battlefield that need to maintain silence or possibly in danger of being captured could quickly issue a call for assistance. And this is just the tip of the iceberg for potential uses of such technology.

As with all new technologies, the price does appear to be prohibitive. The Civil Rights Defenders have not disclosed how much each bracelet is costing it, but only 30 are being issued at this time and it hopes to increase that number to 55 in the near future. It is also currently asking for donations to cover the funding of the project, so this doesn’t sound like it exactly a cheap device at this time.

It’s an intriguing notion to be sure of where else this technology could be applied, but we’ll just have to wait and see if any further use applications appear in the future.


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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