By Tuan Nguyen
Posting in Cities
Thousands of students in Brazil are now required to wear a shirt that text messages their parents when they don't show up for class.
The technology gods may have delivered the ultimate tool for strict teachers and parents in the form of track-able school uniforms.
The outfits, which consists of a radio frequency sensor (RFID), became part of the mandatory dress code this week for some 20,000 grade school students in the Brazilian city of Vitoria da Conquista. While there had been earlier reports that Trutex, a UK startup, planned to market this technology, the city's education secretary Coriolano Moraes told the Associated Press that the city may be the first to actually use it to cut down on truancy. In a couple years, he expects the chip-embedded t-shirts to be worn by all of the city's 43,000 public elementary and middle school students.
The t-shirts work similarly to the tracking devices sometimes used to locate lost pets. A chip that's built into the clothing provides data to a central computer programmed to send updates to parents about their child's whereabouts via text messaging. So whenever the child enters the school, it instantly sends confirmation of the arrival. And if the kid doesn't show up within 20 minutes after classes start, parents will receive an alert that says: "Your child has still not arrived at school."
According to school rules, three absences and the child's parents will be summoned for an explanation. Failure to do so means the authorities may get involved.
But whenever kids feel the urge to cut class, they tend to figure out really clever ways around things. That's why the city went to great lengths to ensure that the chips are designed with an anti-tampering security system. Additionally, the shirts can be washed, ironed and re-worn without being damaged. Children are also required to wear the uniforms while school is in session.
In total, city officials spent $670,000 to design, test and manufacture the high-tech T-shirts, according to the AP.
Yes, all as to assure that kids take their education seriously. But are they taking it a bit too far? And more importantly, would an idea like this fly in the U.S.? Feel free to sound off.
Contributor's note: The article has been amended to reflect the fact that the uniforms use RFID technology, not GPS.
More on 'Big brother' tech:
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- Surveillance video camera catches speeding drivers, issues tickets [video]
- Police use military drones to arrest U.S. citizens
Tracking technology in the News:
- Whoops! Driver follows GPS directions right into the ocean
- GPS military weapon gives soldiers an edge
- GPS guided missile blasts through Navy ship
Mar 27, 2012
In Massachusetts there was a burst of public outrage last year after an autistic child was left on the bus that brought him to school. Parents were outraged that they were not contacted when the kid was missing from school. The outrage died down after it was shown that the schools hands were tied on attendence matters. In Massachusetts it is ILLEGAL for schools to follow-up with parents when a child is out without prior notification. Your kid could be skipping school every day and you will not find out until you see the number of days absent on their report card at the end of the semester. Apparently the old job of truant officer was banned because the practice of taking attendence was deemed intrusive on the kids rights.
You note that "A chip that???s built into the clothing provides geo-location data ..." but the chip is not providing geo-location data. It provides a unique number. The reader mounted at the school entrance is what provides the location.
You're right! There were previous reports that incorrectly indicated that the chips were GPS. I updated the article to reflect the fact that the chips use RFID technology, not GPS. Thanks! - Tuan