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Could wearable technology stop a repeat of the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls?

Steve Rogerson
April 16, 2015
 
A year after the kidnapping of more than 250 schoolgirls in Nigeria, a company is producing wearable technology that provides voice and data messaging, locators and even an anti-kidnap device for children. These simple-to-operate and durable devices can be controlled from any mobile, tablet or PC.
 
MyFamily Mobile is headquartered in the UK, with operations in Nigeria, and plans to extend its services to the SADC region by the end of 2015 covering South Africa, Botswana and Malawi. They use multi-network sim cards from another UK company – Podsystem M2M – and a blend of GPS, GSM, RFID and Wifi to provide accurate location information, indoors and out.
 
“We are very pleased to be able to provide the reliable multi network mobile connectivity needed to ensure MyFamily Mobile can continue to provide an invaluable child protection service to families in Nigeria and worldwide,” said Podsystem CEO Sam Colley.
 
The mobile devices use safe zones, or geo-fences, which can be defined to alert loved ones if the boundary is crossed. In the event of a kidnap or other emergency, devices are equipped with a panic button that triggers an automatic location beacon and, if necessary, an armed response team to help recover loved ones that are in danger.
 
The sims can connect to several networks in each country and will automatically swap networks if the signal is lost. This is essential for the type of situations in which the tracking devices are deployed, as the wearable device is much less likely to lose coverage as it roams, even in rural areas.
 
“Podsystem’s best-signal multi-network sim cards are in all the MyFamily Mobile devices our subscribers use,” said Seyi Opanubi, co-founder and director of operations at MyFamily Mobile. “The sim cards are embedded in the devices so not seen, but form the backbone upon which MyFamily Mobile has built a reliable service for our mission critical applications, from smart messaging, safe zone, breadcrumb and speed alerts to SOS response and global roaming.”
 
The company is also developing its devices on a server platform for use in the USA and Europe. With Podsystem’s flat rate USA and EU data and support from a team of IoT and M2M experts, Opanubi said: “Podsystem M2M’s technical support is key to MyFamily Mobile and Podsystem has never let us down in this area. Our subscribers have never experienced a down time even when travelling abroad. We are very happy with the quick and proactive response to queries and issues, and with our mission critical operations we find the 24 hour emergency support invaluable.”
 
Group MD of Podsystem, Charles Towers-Clark, added: “MyFamily Mobile has a really interesting application with the potential to reach a huge marketplace of parents throughout Europe and the USA seeking the reassurance of knowing exactly where their children are and that they are safe, even when out of sight.”