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INRM
12th September 2010, 12:58 AM
California Students get Tracking Devices
URL: http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_15815706?nclick_check=1

RICHMOND, Calif.—California officials are outfitting preschoolers in Contra Costa County with tracking devices they say will save staff time and money.

The system was introduced Tuesday. When at the school, students will wear a jersey that has a small radio frequency tag. The tag will send signals to sensors that help track children's whereabouts, attendance and even whether they've eaten or not.

Doesn't this strike any of you as being just a little bit overboard?


INRM

quixotecoyote
12th September 2010, 01:26 AM
California Students get Tracking Devices
URL: http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_15815706?nclick_check=1



Doesn't this strike any of you as being just a little bit overboard?


INRM

I know! Obviously the first step in a plan to strip citizens of their privacy and track us as a means to institute totalitarian rule. Completely not believable as a means to keep track of children whose intelligence and/or survival instincts haven't yet surpassed most clever dogs.

The Fallen Serpent
12th September 2010, 01:28 AM
So... how do they know the right children are wearing the right jersey's the whole time? I suspect human nature will foil the cost savings of this experimental set up. When I was a child in school it took the watchful eye of a person to keep us in the same seats day after day.

Though I can see an improvement on the system based on how it is presented. Which is vaguely. The children walk past an RFID reader that displays the name that is supposed to match the child. A teacher oversees this, ensuring accuracy. Roll call is done as children enter, as they pass into the cafeteria, as they reenter the classroom. The question is, would the regular occurance of children who forget/lose/destroy their jersies gum up the works enough to remove all time efficiency from the system? In my experience of manufacturing, badges with RFID sensors to log in/out of work hours were very cost effecient. That was dealing with adults who had the choice to be there. Children I am no so sure. It is difficult to keep the entire class in coats and backpacks day in and out. This is just another item they must remember every day.

I am not too concerned about the privacy issue, only if this encourages less supervision. My initial thoughts are that this is supposed to shorten the constant double checking of roll call to ensure everyone is present. At preschool ages children are not in private during school, so there is no lost privacy. This is largely just changing the record from pencil marks to digital marks.

ETA: On further thought. I suspect jersies with names on them were previously required at this school. In the preschool I attended we wore nametags with our classroom symbol on it. Go Butterflies! Go Rainbows! I did two years, so I have to cheer two affiliations. In kindergarten and first grade we had nametags with our addresses on our backpacks. Mostly those were for the bus drivers. If that is the case, I can see this being rather cost effecient. Cheap RFID tags and readers are very cheap in bulk. The chips can be programmed and replaced on campus and the system maintained by an IT or security staffer. At this stage I am assuming this school already has such a staffer. There is a definite advantage for substitutes and volunteer helpers in keeping track of numbers here who otherwise might not notice a specific face disappearing as this will speed head counts. Head counts are a very common activity for preschoolers.

Sword_Of_Truth
12th September 2010, 02:00 AM
Why are they incorporating chips into an article of clothing when it's faster, and has less chance of confusion, to just inject the chips underneath the skin like veterinarians do on dogs and cats?

Just a quick poke with the hypo, throw a band-aid on top and the kid is back on the playground in seconds.

Juniversal
12th September 2010, 02:03 AM
When I read the title my brain automatically assumed this was an INRM thread and I was right. :D

The Fallen Serpent
12th September 2010, 02:14 AM
Why are they incorporating chips into an article of clothing when it's faster, and has less chance of confusion, to just inject the chips underneath the skin like veterinarians do on dogs and cats?There is a different level of necessity to give shots to human children than there is for giving shots to non-human pets. This system is only being used at the school campus. A long term RFID chip injection is not practical for a school a child may be attending one or two years. Plus, the whole emotional backlash against having tracking chips implanted in children. Last that I can think of for the moment, this means paying the nurse to do this to every child with a different needle for every child. That might skyrocket costs right there.

Just a quick poke with the hypo, throw a band-aid on top and the kid is back on the playground in seconds.
There is no such thing as a quick poke with a hypo when small children are involved.

Sword_Of_Truth
12th September 2010, 02:22 AM
Yeah, but if you inject the chip under the skin, this gives you the ability to extend the tracking and surveillance if needed.

You could quickly add drone type remote aerial surveillance technology readily available on the civilian market to follow the target and provide live real-time video.

V3KrFV0-WFw

quixotecoyote
12th September 2010, 02:44 AM
Could you even use satellites to provide tracking and directions in case they forget their lunch and needed someone to deliver the package to their location?

The Fallen Serpent
12th September 2010, 02:44 AM
Yet that removes the cost savings efficiency of the program. Such a plan would require more expensive RFID chips, and of course the tracking/surveillance drone system.

Donal
12th September 2010, 06:12 AM
Not if you buy in bulk or use satellites already up.

The Fallen Serpent
12th September 2010, 07:24 AM
Not if you buy in bulk or use satellites already up.

Bulk purchases of more expensive equipment is still more expensive than bulk purchases of cheap equipment. Using satellites already up is also expensive. Private communications companies charge a rather hefty sum to use their satellites as is, and adding in spy capabilities would be a very major retooling of already in flight satellites. Appropriating government satellites with these capabilities already built in would also be expensive. The usual departments in charge of these satellites would expect part of the usual appropriations for the upkeep and staffing of satellite operations centers to be carried by the school's budget to share usage time. Shared tools equals shared budgets in a bureuacrat's eyes.

Ladewig
12th September 2010, 10:00 AM
Doesn't this strike any of you as being just a little bit overboard?


INRM

Do you think it is a little overboard or a lot overboard? I would place it just a little less than overboard.

Lisa Simpson
12th September 2010, 10:14 AM
A few years ago, on the first day of school, a special education pre-schooler wandered away from our school and was found walking along the major street that runs behind the school. So I can see the value in an RFID system. My school is too poor to afford that, so the classroom got a baby gate.

Roadtoad
12th September 2010, 10:24 AM
Sorry, but while there are times when I disagree with INRM, this time, I have to agree.

This whole idea of RFID chips in clothing is an attempt at a panacea. As a parent of four boys, I already know kids will get out if they want out, and any kid with an IQ that registers will be able to figure out how to get out of a garment and wander off if they've a mind to. It's window dressing, nothing more.

Chipping kids? If it were one of mine, I pull the kid out of school until the school district got its priorities right. If schools are going to be nothing more than expensive babysitters, maybe that might be an option, but I expect better, and I sure as hell expect that my kids privacy will be respected. (Remember that nonsense with the laptops provided by the schools that wound up recording video and audio of the kids at home?)

Perhaps rather than going with this kind of silliness, the school districts in California could quit with the lip service regarding parental involvement in the classrooms and actually ask parents to come in and help out once in a while. They're our kids; we ought to be involved in protecting them.

Roadtoad
12th September 2010, 10:28 AM
A few years ago, on the first day of school, a special education pre-schooler wandered away from our school and was found walking along the major street that runs behind the school. So I can see the value in an RFID system. My school is too poor to afford that, so the classroom got a baby gate.

What do you want to bet that the gate was more effective than any RFID system? To my way of thinking, for the amount of money spent on the system, the people to maintain it, the people to monitor the input from the sensors, and the like, you'd be better off in the long run insisting on baby gates; they're cheaper, and once installed, with a lock, the kids have to ask an adult before it's opened.

elbe
12th September 2010, 10:32 AM
As I believe there are groups that authority figures have a vested interest in keeping track of (like small kids or alzheimer's patients) I don't think it's a bad idea, but I agree with other posters that the kids may not play along.

I'm not sure how an RFID chip would know if a student ate, other than seeing if they've been in the lunchroom.

Cobalt
12th September 2010, 10:47 AM
As has been said, I wager the time/money put into making the system work better will nullify whatever cost savings there were in the first place.

Safe-Keeper
12th September 2010, 10:55 AM
Why a jersey? Why not just put the trackers on or inside their backpacks, like they apparently do in Japan? Why on a specific article of clothing?

Lisa Simpson
12th September 2010, 10:58 AM
I don't know about other schools, but at ours, backpacks are hung on a rack outside the classroom for most of the day. Putting RFID chips on them would be very, very pointless.

Roadtoad
12th September 2010, 11:05 AM
I don't know about other schools, but at ours, backpacks are hung on a rack outside the classroom for most of the day. Putting RFID chips on them would be very, very pointless.

That was the case at our kids' schools. Add to this the necessity that an RFID needs constant monitoring. I still think the real answer is getting parents involved. The more eyes you have on the little ones, the better off everyone is. Not only do you then have closer monitoring of the crumb crunchers, but parents then have a better idea what's going on in the classroom, and they can help provide the extra attention that one teacher can't provide when surrounded by thirty to thirty five kids.

Mikemcc
12th September 2010, 11:29 AM
Alot of misconceptions here. Pet chips need to be read with a hand-held scanner, thery are really short ranged. The type of device they're looking at will have a larger antenna, this means that they can be read with a wall mounted scanner. The system will be able to tell who's in a particular room at a time, so no need for attendance registers.

There's no way they can work with satellites or be used to track anyone away from the school premises.

Roadtoad
12th September 2010, 11:37 AM
Alot of misconceptions here. Pet chips need to be read with a hand-held scanner, thery are really short ranged. The type of device they're looking at will have a larger antenna, this means that they can be read with a wall mounted scanner. The system will be able to tell who's in a particular room at a time, so no need for attendance registers.

There's no way they can work with satellites or be used to track anyone away from the school premises.

Which means that while they aren't entirely useless, they aren't much help, either. If you have a four year old out wandering the streets around the school, those chips in the jerseys aren't going to be much help.

elbe
12th September 2010, 11:41 AM
Which means that while they aren't entirely useless, they aren't much help, either. If you have a four year old out wandering the streets around the school, those chips in the jerseys aren't going to be much help.

They could implement a system to alert the staff when one of the children leaves the building.

Roadtoad
12th September 2010, 11:46 AM
They could implement a system to alert the staff when one of the children leaves the building.

Sure, but it would be nice if the chips would tell you where the kid is.

elbe
12th September 2010, 11:50 AM
Sure, but it would be nice if the chips would tell you where the kid is.

That is, pretty much, the limitation of RFID, it'll only tell you where a chip is if it's in range of a scanner. If you wanted a more encompassing solution you could do a GPS tracking system - LoJack the kids (which, I just found out, is an option LoJack is working on: "people at risk of wandering (probationers, parolees, and Alzheimer's patients)").

The Fallen Serpent
12th September 2010, 04:42 PM
I seriously do not see the privacy concern here. As already stated, these are not GPS tracking units. At best they say which room a student is logged into. Schools already are supposed to keep track of that. It just changes a pencil mark or mental note into a digital mark. Has school at the low age end of school changed that much in 25 years? What privacy is lost by the school staff paying attention to what room a child is in?

As for locked gates with fences around the school, that can be illegal in some states. Locked baby gates are not as effective with preschool aged children. Or at least the more adventurous ones that would defeat other methods would defeat that as well.

I suspect the vague article is not giving a direct perspective of what these are supposed to do, which I would speculate is to make the ever present head counts faster. The comment about tracking eating is probably a log into entering the cafeteria, or more likely logging going through the lunch line. When I was in elementary school if I had a bag lunch I had to inform the lunch attendee. If I did not do that and did not go through the lunch line, halfway through lunch the attendee would hunt me down and made sure I had eaten lunch. Apparently children passing out from malnutrition is a major concern of schools. It actually happened to my sister once on a field trip but that was a combination of factors.

I agree this might not be cost effective though. It really depends if they already have an IT or security staffer. These systems are rather cheap and low labor maintain if they already do. Then the concern of kids not having the jersies with the chips when they should.

Thunder
12th September 2010, 07:25 PM
Doesn't this strike any of you as being just a little bit overboard?

INRM

FEMA concentration camps are clearly right around the corner.

:p

seewhatflows
12th September 2010, 07:41 PM
Sounds like the student-teacher ratio is too high, like every other public school in California.

Roadtoad
12th September 2010, 08:52 PM
Sounds like the student-teacher ratio is too high, like every other public school in California.

True enough. That's the problem, particularly in the elementary schools, where you need a lower ratio. RFID tags sound like they'd be a nice help, except it's not the real solution to the real problem.

Chaos
13th September 2010, 02:59 AM
True enough. That's the problem, particularly in the elementary schools, where you need a lower ratio. RFID tags sound like they'd be a nice help, except it's not the real solution to the real problem.

Real solutions cost real money - and who is willing to elect a politician who announces he will spend real money to solve real problems?

jj-158
13th September 2010, 04:18 AM
Real solutions cost real money - and who is willing to elect a politician who announces he will spend real money to solve real problems?

Obama was elected precisely for this.

elbe
13th September 2010, 07:54 AM
Sounds like the student-teacher ratio is too high, like every other public school in California.

Even if it was two students per teacher I can still imagine a kid managing to sneak away when their back is turned.

KoihimeNakamura
13th September 2010, 08:09 AM
California also is broke, and since Obama can't deficit spend..

Spindrift
13th September 2010, 10:20 AM
and even whether they've eaten or not.

How does it know if the kid has eaten? I could see if it knew the kid went into the cafeteria, but that doesn't mean they've eaten.

Cobalt
13th September 2010, 10:43 AM
How does it know if the kid has eaten? I could see if it knew the kid went into the cafeteria, but that doesn't mean they've eaten.

I doubt it would actually know if they've eaten. Probably a scan if you pick up food from the cafeteria or something says they've been there.

Dr. Keith
13th September 2010, 11:39 AM
I doubt it would actually know if they've eaten. Probably a scan if you pick up food from the cafeteria or something says they've been there.

The first time I read it I thought they meant if the child has been eaten. All well and good, but a bit late by then, don't you think? Better to catch them while marinating.

Chaos
13th September 2010, 01:36 PM
I doubt it would actually know if they've eaten. Probably a scan if you pick up food from the cafeteria or something says they've been there.

You could put the chip in the food. If it leaves the cafeteria through the front door, the food has been eaten. :p

INRM
15th September 2010, 02:17 PM
Ladewig,

I disagree, I think this is a very serious problem

A Christian Sceptic
15th September 2010, 02:32 PM
They could implement a system to alert the staff when one of the children leaves the building.

Maybe a light shock or something (on either the teacher or kids) - like the wireless fence system for dogs.

Sword_Of_Truth
15th September 2010, 07:40 PM
Ladewig,

I disagree, I think this is a very serious problem

Of course you do.

rjh01
16th September 2010, 12:05 AM
What happens if the child decides he is hot and takes the jersey off? If they then put it in a bag outside of the classroom the parents may get a note asking why their child was not in class, when they were.

Technology is good for pointing out possible problems, but it needs a human to say yes there is a problem here.

The Fallen Serpent
16th September 2010, 12:25 AM
What happens if the child decides he is hot and takes the jersey off? If they then put it in a bag outside of the classroom the parents may get a note asking why their child was not in class, when they were.

Technology is good for pointing out possible problems, but it needs a human to say yes there is a problem here.

I would hope this very issue was considered. Past experience informs me it may or may not have been considered. :p

Agreed with your point. I can see this working if that is how the technology is being put to use. Maybe not cost effecient, I will leave that up to the school to discover and inform the rest of us.