GPS technology helps protect the vulnerable

The impetus for SafeTracks GPS Solutions Inc. was a desire to help victims of domestic violence.

The impetus for SafeTracks GPS Solutions Inc. was a desire to help victims of domestic violence.

But while developing their system for tracking and monitoring the perpetrators of such acts, it occurred to Vince Morelli and Bob Aloisio — SafeTracks’ president and director of business development respectively — that their technology could protect these and other vulnerable people.

The result is a personal electronic monitoring division, through which victims of violence and others can carry small GPS devices.

The units have an SOS button with which to summon help. They also provide two-way voice communication, can call designated phone numbers with the push of a button, and allow for the wearer’s location, direction and speed of travel, and movement history to be determined.

“It’s like an OnStar in the palm of your hand,” said Morelli.

In addition to giving peace of mind to past and potential victims of violence, the units could help safeguard people in potentially hazardous occupations, he added. Social workers, real estate agents, probation officers, taxi drivers, security guards and convenience store clerk are among the possibilities.

Additionally, said Morelli, people with special needs — such as those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia — could be monitored to ensure they don’t leave a predetermined zone. SafeTracks has been testing its personal electronic monitoring equipment in a variety of situations and settings, said Morelli. In one case, it helped prevent a Central Alberta youth with severe mental health and substance abuse issues from putting himself in danger.

Working with his mother and mental health officials, SafeTracks fit the teen with one of its GPS ankle bracelets. If he left his family’s rural home, the unit vibrated and the monitoring centre notified his mother.

The woman, who did not want herself of her son identified in this story, said he quickly learned to return to his yard when the unit prompted him. On one occasion, the monitoring centre was able to verify that he was sitting in the brush not far away.

“We just waited and then he started walking back home,” said his mother. “But if he’d gone on the highway and we’d seen that he was moving, we could have called the police to get him.”

After 100 days, the bracelet was removed. But the youth still remained within his boundaries.

“It’s totally extinguished any running away behaviour,” said his mother, adding that keeping him in a controlled area reduced the severity of his addiction and allowed his mental state to improve.

“He’s a totally different kid.”

This application is the tip of the iceberg, agreed Morelli and Aloisio.

Law enforcement officers are another group who could benefit from location monitoring, and they’ve also discussed their technology with the operators of an Alberta ski hill.

Not only could it pinpoint the location of ski patrollers tending to injured people, the units might be used to ensure people stay away from dangerous areas and vacate the resort at day’s end.

“This is going to be national,” predicted Morelli. “We’re just in the process now of working out our marketing and distribution and things like that,” added Aloisio.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nearly five per cent of Alberta businesses did not survive the first 10 months of the pandemic. (Black Press File photo).
Nearly 5% of Alberta businesses closed during 2020 pandemic

Will more closures happen before it’s over?

Red Deer Rebels forward Arshdeep Bains eyes a loose puck in front of the Medicine Hat Tigers net Saturday night in WHL action at the Centrium. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels fall short in 12th straight loss

Tigers 5 Rebels 2 (Saturday) Tigers 3 Rebels 2 (Monday) The Red… Continue reading

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. announces signage along Alberta border to discourage non-essential travel

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Red Deer property owners will receive their 2019 property assessment notices in the next few days.  (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer awaiting more details on how federal budget impacts city

The City of Red Deer is awaiting more information on how much… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Letters
Letter: Restrictions have nothing to do with religion

Many have framed the closure of GraceLife Church near Edmonton by Alberta… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: Thanking volunteers in Red Deer

National Volunteer Week is April 18 to 24. At the Canadian Cancer… Continue reading

Letter to the editor
Letter: Good on MLAs for speaking out

This is a letter in regard to MLAs not standing united behind… Continue reading

Treena Mielke
Family: Happiness can be found in many ways

I’ve heard it said that necessity is the mother of invention. I… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators' Connor Brown, right, scores on Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during second-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Alta., Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Connor Brown scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 4-2 win over Calgary Flames

Connor Brown scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 4-2 win over Calgary Flames

Canada head coach Bev Priestman reacts during the women's international friendly soccer match between England and Canada at Bet365 stadium in Stoke on Trent, England, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. Priestman says her goal is to help Canada move up the Olympic podium after back-to-back bronze medals at the 2012 and 2016 Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rui Vieira
Olympic soccer draw will allow Canadians to start planning on and off the pitch

Olympic soccer draw will allow Canadians to start planning on and off the pitch

Federal government’s extension of CEWS in budget is some good news for CFL franchises

Federal government’s extension of CEWS in budget is some good news for CFL franchises

Canada's Brendan Bottcher dropped a 6-3 decision to Scotland's Bruce Mouat in the men's final of the Humpty's Champions Cup. Bottcher makes a shot against Scotland at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Friday, April 9, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Mixed results for Canadian teams at Champions Cup as Homan wins, Bottcher loses

Mixed results for Canadian teams at Champions Cup as Homan wins, Bottcher loses

Most Read