Ensuring child safety through technology

Ensuring child safety through technology

Child safety is a key issue in our country where every parent is in a constant state of anxiety and fear when their children are away from them. Crimes against children are happening at an alarming rate outdoors spaces where children are more vulnerable, especially when not escorted by a guardian, and also in indoor spaces which are supposed to be safe.

Many incidents of rape,  sodomy and mishandling are reported from spaces where our child is supposed to be safe but is surrounded by people with malicious intentions. Child safety has become a mammoth concern especially since parents cannot escort their children in buses or to schools.

It’s a sad truth that statistics indicate that 53% of our children are abused which means every other child goes through an ordeal which we never want them to encounter. The rising figures of child abuse cannot remain a mere indicator of the increase in crime against children, but must push people to become more aware and ready to take charge. But the truth is that each and every child needs protection and it is practically impossible for us to safeguard them at all times.

So what is the answer to this? Technology? Yes, to a great extent. Nobody can accurately predict the potential of technology. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, we have reached a stage where we should use the immense technological power for all issues that have a social impact.

Child safety issues cannot be totally addressed using technology. However, with the right technology, such incidents can be prevented. Knowledge of the children’s whereabouts and  communication with them are key to building any safety solution. This is where the role of Internet of Things (IoT) wearables and the power of Internet comes into play.

Currently, safety solutions

deployed are restricted to surveillance systems like CCTV footage. However, these solutions are not associated with any real time help for our children. For instance, if an incident happens and nobody is watching the live footage, we will not be able to prevent it from happening. Thus, such solutions act only as a deterrent to help in post analysis of the event rather than prevention.

Using the technologies such as IoT and communication mechanism specifically in 4G wireless broadband will enable organisations to innovate for this cause. Solutions are being built in a way that will enable incidents to be reported in real time and help us reach the children at the right time and place.

Culture of safety

Technology can make a huge difference in creating a protective ecosystem for our children. Concepts such as precise location tracking (outdoor/indoor), geo-fencing, contextual perspective analysis and machine learning will act as a base platform for solutions to be developed in the child safety space.

These IoT-powered solutions will be available to the parents or the guardians on smartphone applications where, with a swipe of a screen, they can see the movements of their child in real-time. They will have a window to the child’s well-being in their own hands.

There is a strong need to provide this information to parents or guardians through a solid communication channel and to connect it with a bullet-proof action system. This action system should alert the parents when the child needs help and go as far as linking it with the closest government assistance agencies like the nearest local police van so that action can be initiated quickly.

Once implemented on a large scale, the data generated through the usage of these technologies can be analysed to derive behaviour patterns. These patterns can then be used to make our safety solutions more intelligent, enabling us to predict the incident in advance and alert the concerned guardians or authorities. This will eventually help in the prevention of incident itself rather than just the reporting of it.

The IoT has created a network of billions of intelligent objects, which, if used smartly, can create an enormous social impact. While we are specifically talking about child safety now, it is an intuitive path forward to use the same base infrastructure for the safety of women and the elderly.

In countries where safety remains a big concern, especially of children, technology that helps in connecting the parents to their children remotely can help prevent crimes and facilitate a safer world for our young ones.

(The writer is CEO and Co-Founder, Evoxyz Technologies, Gurgaon)