School children to receive monitoring devices

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School children to receive monitoring devices

The U-Seoul Children Safety Zone service, which automatically reports the whereabouts of children to their parents using radio frequency ID tags and related reader-sensors, was expanded to seven elementary schools Monday.

This change affects 2,195 students as part of a bid to improve the safety of children, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

U-Seoul Children Safety Zone designates areas within a radius of 300 to 500 meters (0.2-0.3 miles) from schools as “child safety zones” and requires the installation of closed-circuit televisions and related reader-sensors in designated areas.

The devices will signal the location of children via tags attached to children’s bag or worn as bracelets or necklaces. Parents receive information via cell phones through text messages. In case of an emergency, children can press the bell attached to the tag to get a quick response.

The service was already tried in a pilot project last November at two elementary schools in Guro and Dobong Districts in southwestern and northern Seoul, respectively, the Seoul city government official said.

No criminal cases have so far been reported in those areas and the service has received positive responses.

As of Monday, five more elementary schools were included in the service zone: Seogyo Elementary School in Mapo District; Nammyeong in Yangcheon District; Daedong in Yeongdeungpo District; Sangshin in Eunpyeong District; and Myeonmok in Jungnang District.

In the new areas, 59 CCTVs and 500 tag related reader-sensors were installed near apartments, academic institutes and crime-ridden areas.

The Seoul Emergency Operations Center will track children’s movements via CCTVs and sensors, and when problems arise, the police will be dispatched to the scene immediately.

“When felons got out of the safety zone where CCTVs and sensors were operating, there was nothing we could do about it until now,” an official from the Seoul city government said.

“However, if the service is expanded to cover every elementary school and student by 2014, as is planned, 74 percent of Seoul will fall under the U-Seoul Children Safety Zone. Areas prone to crimes will be carefully reviewed.”

By Lim Ju-ree []
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