Thursday 5 January 2012

Great Ideas For The Future - Electronic Tagging For Kids

Welcome to this week's edition of Tomorrow's World, and to start off we report on an ingenious breakthrough for future public health screening ... electronic activity tags for kids.

In early 2012, wristwatch-like devices called Polar active monitors will be used by older students in PE classes at all 18 Parkway elementary schools. District officials say the devices should help improve the students' fitness and academic achievement.

Later this school year, the district plans to collect data about activity levels and even sleep patterns for a week at a time. It will have the students wear the devices round the clock.
All rather ingenious, so it is.

The monitors measure activity by tracking every movement of the person wearing them. They display steps taken, calories spent and time spent at various levels of activity. An animated figure on the monitor indicates the activity level. A bar shows the target time for doing moderate to vigorous activity and the amount of time achieved at that level.

Under the pilot program, the three schools each received 25 monitors, which cost $90 apiece. The monitors have been rotated among third-, fourth- and fifth-graders in physical education classes.

Each of the district's elementary schools will receive 25 monitors in January and begin using them in PE class.

However, the focus of the monitors' use will change gradually, so that by the end of the year students will continually wear the monitors for a full week at a time to assess activity levels.
Of course, like any innovation, there are always going to be teething troubles.

Neil Richards, a professor of law with Washington University in St. Louis who teaches privacy and civil liberties courses, said he feels the plan for the devices constitutes "a major privacy issue."

"The school district eventually will be engaging in surveillance of kids' sleep and exercise patterns outside the school day," he said. "Though physical activity is important and obesity is a problem, the district could not require kids to wear them because I think it would be a violation of their and their families' Fourth Amendment rights, which is pretty easily unconstitutional."
Bah! They're only primary school kids, for God's sake. Get with the program, Grandad. Anyway, such worries are being addressed as we speak.

Ramspott said the district plans to share all physical activity and sleep reports with parents [...]
See? The benevolent state is nothing if not generous. Plus ...

Ramspott said Parkway will require parental consent to participate ...
But, of course.

... largely because of the responsibility of caring for the monitors.
Hey, at $90 a pop it's expensive kit!

Still, parents should be asking what data is being collected from those devices and when, Richards said. They should ask what rights they have to control the data, whether data is anonymous, what safeguards will be in place to protect data, whether the district is going to give it or sell it to anyone, when data will be destroyed, and whether the district has a privacy policy available to parents.

"If a university would do this study, they'd need to have lots of approval and consent from our internal review board, because this is a form of human subject research," Richards said. "Though the district should be applauded for ensuring kids are healthy, this kind of biological surveillance seems to go far beyond what they should be concerned with."
For crying out loud! What is it with this guy? Does he not realise that it's essential for the state to concern itself with how children are raised - parents, less so?

He wonders what's next.

"Will they start monitoring kids' nutrition at home or how many hours they spend reading at home?" Richards asked.
Oooh, what a fantastic idea! We'll pitch it to the Department for Education next week.


WitteringsfromWitney said...

DP, why the surprise? Is this not just another attempt by the political elite at 'social engineering'? Or in plain English, another attempt to regulate human behaviour, the regulation appearing once the 'results' are known?

John Pickworth said...

I give it a week before some bright spark attaches their device to the family dog for the duration.

Rob F said...

And of course, when they've gone through their formative years being monitored all the time, they'll be desensetised to the state taking ANY involvement in their private lives.

Dick Puddlecote said...

John: You think like me.

Rob: So do you. ;)

Anonymous said...

Of course, if they strap such an activity monitoring devisc to the right wrist of the average teenaged boy, you can bet the needle will go off the scale on a daily basis. (Or was that just me ?)

Wolfers said...

@ John and DP. I blogged about this some time ago, there was indeed a similar scheme where the little tykes did just that, and the school got a data set of Rover sniffing Fido's arsehole and dry humping the vicar's leg when he came round for tea!

Buggered if I can find the article though. . .

subrosa said...


However I abhor the use of the word kids for children. Kids are the offspring of goats.

Also why is the modern day practice of calling anyone in formal education students acceptable? Is there a CP project somewhere to obliterate the word pupil from the dictionary?

Pedantic? I make no apologies.

andy said...

How long before its proposed to just implant all newborns with a chip that records all that stuff and transmits it to some branch of govt?

Anonymous said...

I would suspect this is an early attempt at just that, using strap on instead of embedded microchips, in order to "normalise" the concept of it and make it more acceptable for when the current generation of children grows into adult-hood. By that point, they will be eager to microchip their own children and that's what the state wants. I would also expect in the near future, this to include monitoring of all adults to determine if and when they are drinking, smoking or eating something with fat, salt or sugar in it and will probably deliver a strong electrical jolt to anyone sinning against public health or not doing their exercise routine as commanded.

Anonymous said...

i'm pretty sure that for some people microchipping is already in practise, for their own good, of course.


Groompy Tom said...

Hello Son. What's that there on your wrist then?

Oh is it now?

Oh does it now?

How very interesting! Can I have a look?

(Device is popped into microwave oven)

(Elapsed Time)


(Knock at door)

Hello Sir. We have reason to believe that your child is melting. May we come in?

Neal Asher said...

Give it maybe half a century and we'll all have ID implants:

Dr Evil said...

Will it monitor them illicitly smoking, drinking or horror of horros, drinking a coca cola (hardcore with sugar not aspartame et al)

Dr Evil said...

@John I read the article I thought I would tie mine to the dog! LOL

Then I saw it asleep. Seems to spend a lot of time asleep and only dances about when it's lunch or tea time!

Ian R Thorpe said...

Why don't we just turn all the nippers into replicants like they did with Barack Obama. Having a chip implanted has kep him thin.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't you just strap the thing to your dog and let it run around in the garden for a bit?

John Pickworth said...

Chalcedon said...

I thought I would tie mine to the dog... Seems to spend a lot of time asleep and only dances about when it's lunch or tea time!

No breakfast??

OMG! You're so going to get a visit from the social services.