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Hardware Hacking

Making a Child Locating System 1092

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the just-contact-a-local-fish-and-wildlife-officer-for-radio-tagging dept.
celtic_hackr writes "Well, I never thought I'd be an advocate for placing GPS devices on people. However, since it took less than three days for my local school district to misplace my daughter, I have decided that something needs to be done. By the school district's own admission it has a recurring problem of placing children on the wrong buses. Fortunately, my daughter was located, with no thanks to the local school district. Therefore, I would like input on a way to be able to keep track of my child. I know there are personal tracking devices out there. I have nothing against these systems. But I want more than this. My specification are: 1) a small unobtrusive device I can place on my daughter, 2) an application to pull up on any computer, a map with a dot indicating the real-time position of my child, 3) a handheld device with the equivalent information, 4) [optional] a secure web application/plug-in I can install on my own domain allowing me to track her from anyplace in the world, 5) a means of turning it all off, 6) a Linux based solution of the above. I believe all the pieces for making such a system are out there. Has anyone built anything like this? Is there an open source solution? How would I go about building my own? Has anyone hacked any of these personal trackers before, to serve their own purposes? How does a tinfoil hat wearer engineer such a device to make sure Big-Brother isn't watching too? Can these devices be locked down so only certain devices can pick up the GPS location of an individual locator? What other recommendations do you have?"
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Making a Child Locating System

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  • by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:12PM (#28170773) Homepage Journal
    Holy crap- you are, what we in the biz call, an over-reacting parent. Calm down and take it easy before you destroy your daughter's life.

    That being said- verizon has an application for cell phones that lets you track your children- it's on get it now. I'm sure other carriers have something similar.
    • by tekiegreg (674773) * <tekieg1-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:16PM (#28170817) Homepage Journal

      Duh-boy, cue debates on how much surveillance for your child is really necessary.

      I'd say just let him be a parent and decide what's necessary. He knows his daughter better than we all do.

      • by westlake (615356) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:38PM (#28171193)

        He knows his daughter better than we all do.

        He also knows his school district better than we do. These decisions are never made in a vacuum.

        I would question pursuing the Linux or Open Source solution if others do the job better. It's the safety of your kid that matters here - not your own political correctness.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:42PM (#28171269)

        Your signature made a really poor combination with your last sentence...

    • by Etrias (1121031) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:21PM (#28170889)
      Won't somebody think of the children!

      Y'know, I got lost all the time as a kid. I threatened to run away and I think my parents reaction was "go ahead". It's almost as if they didn't want me around.

      ....uhmmm.

      Hang on, I have a phone call to make.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TinBromide (921574)
      Here's the idea: A pay as you go phone. Pay for a small amount of minutes that you put in her backpack and keep the phone off. Make sure it is off and nobody knows about it (Don't want it stolen or confiscated). Then, when she gets "misplaced", she can call you or somebody she knows.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:25PM (#28170973)

      you're assuming the guy in the article is honestly trying to track his daughter. one of the clients i work for is a bettered womens advocacy group and shelter. they have horror stories all the time of guys who do the same thing to their wives, ex wives girlfriends etc. its easy enough to rig a cellphone thats GPS enabled to create a tracking device and discreet survailence tool. if you ask me, the whole thing is shady. perhaps its my paranoia light flashing because of my client, i can understand your concern, but 10s of thousands, nay 10s of millions of kids make it thought the school system every year without their parents needing to freak out like that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Captain Hook (923766)

        one of the clients i work for is a bettered womens advocacy group and shelter

        The cheek of it, women trying to better themselves and then getting shelter as well.

    • by blueZ3 (744446) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:26PM (#28170981) Homepage

      This isn't mean to be a flame, because as a fellow parent (of toddlers, no less) I understand that it can be an extremely stressful and fear-inducing thing to lose track of your child. But I agree with the parent: get some perspective on things by waiting for a bit before subjecting your daughter to Big-Brother-like monitoring.

      Not only do I think you are overreacting, you are sending the wrong message to your school-age daughter. She doesn't need 24-7 tracking, she needs lessons in dealing with unexpected situations. Instead of jumping directly to an electronic device, teach her what to do if she gets lost... the same strategy that's been used successfully by parents for many, many years: find a "safe" adult (police officer, female adult with kids) and tell them that she's lost. If she's old enough to attend school, she's old enough to learn her phone number and address.

      Besides, if she's anything like most kids, anything you "attach" to her (short of a steel shackle) she is going to remove and leave behind or lose. :-)

      Again, I understand your reaction (on one level) but I think you're overreacting.

      • by raju1kabir (251972) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:42PM (#28171265) Homepage
        As a parent who's already posted in this thread, I can only say "+1000, insightful".
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by danlor (309557)

          As a parent with a mentally disabled child, I do not agree.

          Our children live in a world still devoid of danger and threat. They expect us, their elders to protect them from harm. That falls to the caretakers as well as us parents. Since we parents have little choice as far as where our children are housed everyday, we have to make other choices and decisions.

          I do not see this as an over reaction. I see it as well thought out, and keeping the idea of the child's privacy in mind. The solutions that are out th

      • by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:46PM (#28171319) Homepage Journal

        I think that you and many other people are missing the real problem. Elementary school children can be as young as four at the start of kindergarten. Elementary schools are just too big these days!.
        One elementary school in my town has several thousand students. That is just insane.
        Schools should start small and grow in size. The elementary school should be in your neighborhood. The idea of shipping kindergarten kids like UPS packages to child warehouses is the problem.
        Of course to build more but smaller schools costs money.....

        • by Critical Facilities (850111) * on Monday June 01, 2009 @03:18PM (#28171893) Homepage
          I have to second this comment. Also, to the posters who are bashing this person, and asking him/her to take the issue up with his/her school system, I think you're all overestimating the ability of many school employees as well as the efficiency with which requests get accommodated in many school systems. In my area, the public schools are completely overrun, mismanaged, and underfunded....badly. Now, I'm not advocating that the person asking for suggestions should try to exert some influence over the school system, but to act as though "fixing" the school's "problems" is easy doesn't really help.

          Besides, is it really that crazy of an idea for the kid to carry a cell phone (with or without GPS)? Nowhere in the post does it say how old the child is. I think some of the people jumping on this "overprotective parent" bandwagon are thinking this kid is some 12-13 year old kid. They might change their tune if (as the parent post points out) it's a 4 yr old girl/boy.
          • by SpooForBrains (771537) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @07:27AM (#28179973)

            > They might change their tune if (as the parent post points out) it's a 4 yr old girl/boy.

            My four year old boy got separated from us in the local supermarket. Due to some strange quirk of the mind (who can fathom the mind of a four year old boy?) he decided we must have left without him, rather than, say, we were in the next aisle (which we were). So he headed out of the main doors and wandered around for a bit looking for us. When he was picked up by the local Community Support Officers, despite being in a state of some distress, he was able to tell them his parents names and where he had been when we got separated, so that they could help him find us. Which they did.

            Children, even small, wooly-headed children, are much more capable than they are often given credit for. Teaching your child how to behave in an unexpected situation and crediting them with the intelligence and capability to look after themselves is the best way to ensure they make it through life safely. It's not the only way, but its far and away the most effective.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by hansamurai (907719)

          Where I grew up, the only Elementary school that had buses were the two "country" schools that covered the less densely populated areas on the outskirts of town. I walked to school every day, it was only a few blocks away, and I imagine if your kid went to one of the "city" schools, they all could have walked too. Of course this was in a town of 15,000, but I totally agree with you, city size should not matter. Elementary schools should be the ultimate local school.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by MrLogic17 (233498)

        Go low tech, with some thing the kid can't lose.

        Use a sharpie marker on the kid's tummy, arm, whatever - "My name is [x]. My daddy's phone number is 555-1212"

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by b0bby (201198)

          That's great for trips to Disneyworld etc (though I don't put their name), not what you'd want to do everyday for school. I'm assuming the child is a kindergartner; I'd be hesitant to geo-tag her unless the wrong bus thing happens again. A simple name tag on her lunchbox/backpack might be enough; the driver could then call you.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        When my son was 5 years old, on his first day at school, they forced him to get off the bus at the wrong house 2 miles away. Thank God the parent who was there was a friend of the family. He was traumatized--our friend told us the Bus Driver physically carried him crying and screaming and just sat him on the ground. As soon as he saw Rachel (the mother who often was our baby sitter) he calmed down. She told the bus driver this was not his house, and he replied that this was the address he had for our son a

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Talderas (1212466)

        This may sound crazy, but I'm not understanding how a school can place a child on the wrong bus.

        Do schools commonly mix up bus numbers and drivers so that students have different buses/drivers every day? Am I not mistaken, but isn't that the very reason why they have bus routes? You get the same bus with the same driver. Every day. A bus is broken down one day? Well the kid still has the same bus driver. The driver is sick that day and needs a substitute? Well you have the same bus number.

        The only situation

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by celtic_hackr (579828)

        Well, for perspective, the local district has had this occur for at least every year for the past five years or more. Further we're talking about a class size of about 200 kindergertners. That's all they have to deal with in the summer at the elementary, except for a few older kids. They lost track of roughly a dozen kids on Friday or about 5% of the class. I'm only discovering this incompetence due to the fact this is the first child I've had at this school.

        While I have and continue to instruct my on daug

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 01, 2009 @03:11PM (#28171747)

        Recently in Austin, Texas, a man in a white van stopped abruptly on the side of a busy street 500 ft from where a school was letting out. He attempted to grab a 10 year old boy and throw him in the van. Luckily, the boy escaped and was able to run another 200 feet to a group of other children accompanied by an adult who called the cops. This was in broad daylight with other adults present (and no one managed to get a license plate number). If this man had gotten a better grip on the boy's back pack, he would have successfully kidnapped that boy. What police officer or safe adult can the child contact now? This is the worst case scenario and it happens more than people without children realize.

        The bus mix up was a simple miscommunication and an opportunity to learn, but that doesn't mean that worse can't happen. On the flip side, as a parent, you really don't want to completely shatter your child's innocence and put them in a constant state of fear. In my mind, an unobtrusive tracking device for young children who live in a large, impersonal urban environment isn't overreacting, it's responsible parenting. "Extremely stressful and fear-inducing" is an understatement when it comes to losing your child.

        http://www.brickhousesecurity.com/child-locator.html
        http://www.zoombak.com/products/universal/
        http://www.amberalertgps.com/

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        But I agree with the parent: get some perspective on things by waiting for a bit before subjecting your daughter to Big-Brother-like monitoring.

        That's ridiculous. If you're not Big-Brother-like monitoring your kid, you're not a parent. Kids below middle-school age have no privacy. There is no reason for a 8 year old to be anywhere but where their parent thinks they should be. This thing may be an issue for kids over the age of 12, but when they're still developmental grubs, advocating their rights to privacy is ignorance and dangerous for the child's development. The one who has lost perspective is the one who thinks that children are fully-co

    • by iamhassi (659463) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:59PM (#28171507) Journal
      " I would like input on a way to be able to keep track of my child."

      no one uses google now days....

      First, your child doesn't need GPS, she needs a cellphone. Why? Because even if you had this magical GPS tracking/locating system you want, there would still be some kind of data communication needed between the child and the laptop. That requires data usage or cellphone usage, so either way you're paying a monthly fee.

      Google child cellphone [google.com] and the very first result is Best cell phone for kids [msn.com]. In it, it says:
      "Migo is made to use Verizon's optional Chaperon service that lets parents track the phone in real time on their handset or PC. For an additional charge, parents can set up boundaries for where the child can go. If the phone leaves the designated area, a text message alert will be sent to the parent's phone. (Only certain adult handsets are capable of using this service.)"

      So you have the GPS tracking you wanted, plus your child has a cellphone so you can reach them if they're indoors and GPS isn't working so hot, AND you have the added feature you didn't even know you wanted: a text message the instant your child leaves a designated area. Not only that but it all works through your cellphone, so anytime you can't find your kid forget about going "Gee, I forgot to bring the GPS locator handheld with me". It's already setup on your cellphone.

      Oh and sure, all this will cost you a few bucks, but I'm sure it won't cost more than a custom handheld locater and a small unobtrusive device to attach to your daughter and and creating a secure website on your own.
    • by mgwmgw (1099417) on Monday June 01, 2009 @03:14PM (#28171805)

      I am not sure whether tracking your child is a good idea or not.
      I don't tell other people how to raise their children.

      If you wish to buy a tracker in a phone, here is some information.
      Good Housekeeping expressed opinions
      http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/product-testing/reviews-tests/appliances-electronics/kid-cell-phones-0306 [goodhousekeeping.com]
      loc8u ofers a GPS Watch
      http://www.switched.com/2009/01/07/lok8u-launches-gps-child-locator-watch-at-ces/ [switched.com]
      Wherify has one
      http://www.theinternetpatrol.com/wherify-wherifone-cell-phone-with-gps-locator-lets-you-gps-track-your-kids/ [theinternetpatrol.com]
      AT&T has one
      http://www.gpsbusinessnews.com/AT-T-launches-child-locator-service_a1470.html [gpsbusinessnews.com]
      Here is a discussion of short and long range child locators
      http://www.gpsfortoday.com/child-locators/ [gpsfortoday.com]
      Amber Alert has one
      http://www.gpschildtracker.net/child-gps-devices-systems-tracking-phone-chip-child-location [gpschildtracker.net]

      However, if you don't want to use a phone
      and build more of it yourself,
      here are some websites that may be useful:
      http://www.tradekey.com/selloffer_view/id/2924121.htm [tradekey.com]
      http://www.brickhousesecurity.com/gps-tracking-server.html [brickhousesecurity.com]
      http://forums.coolest-gadgets.com/showthread.php?t=4079 [coolest-gadgets.com]
      http://www.ecplaza.net/search/0s1nf20sell/gps_tracker_%20gps_tracking_gps.html [ecplaza.net]
      http://5thirtyone.com/archives/876/comment-page-1 [5thirtyone.com]

    • by Cedric Tsui (890887) on Monday June 01, 2009 @03:49PM (#28172401)

      Agreed. Here's an idea.

      Next time you go to the mall with the family, teach your daughter to talk to strangers.
      What? No way! Strangers are BAD. BAD EVIL people who want to randomly inject her with drugs so she'll become an addict and a regular client.

      Next time you go to the mall with the family, teach your daughter to talk to the right strangers. Mall clerks at security booths. Other parents. Security guards. Bus drivers. If you can teach your daughter to become street smart, she will be able to take care of herself when you're not around. She'll be safe even if you are unable to access your handheld, or the internet is down, or the power goes out...

  • Cell phone (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spazztastic (814296) <spazztasticNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:13PM (#28170779)

    Buy your daughter a cellphone and have her use Google Latitude? Set up speed dial to call you, your wife, etc.? Just kicking ideas around...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:14PM (#28170797)

    Police and insurance companies are familiar with the operation of these units. And a few brackets will easily and securely mount the unit to your daughter's undercarriage.

  • Zoomback... (Score:5, Informative)

    by chris_martin (115358) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:16PM (#28170829)
  • by kclittle (625128) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:16PM (#28170831)
    ... yields 36,9000 hits.
  • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:17PM (#28170835)
    This one [themobiletracker.com] seemed to work pretty well at finding my wife, anyway.
  • Buy her a cellphone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shitzu (931108) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:17PM (#28170837)

    At least in my country (Estonia) you can track any GSM cellphone's (belonging to you) location from the provider's webpage or similar.

    • by rev_sanchez (691443) on Monday June 01, 2009 @03:04PM (#28171593)
      I have another cell phone idea. Rig up the pre-paid cell phone to shoot emergency flares when the number is dialed. The wiring should be similar to the IED designs the insurgency has been using in Iraq but you'll want to substitute the bomb bit for a emergency flare. I really can't stress enough how important that last part is. Now, affix the device on some sturdy head ware. You'll probably want to base this hat on a steel wok and just add a chin strap and remove any handles. Now all you need to do is mount the device on top of the inverted wok/hat and you're all set.

      If your kid goes missing just dial the number and even if you don't see the flares I'm pretty sure someone will contact you shortly after flaming rockets erupt from your child's hat. Wrong numbers might be an issue but it's a small price to pay for safety.
  • by rob1980 (941751) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:17PM (#28170839)
    When I was in middle school they gave all the kids a laminated bus pass with the bus number in big block type, and had the bus numbers spray painted on the sidewalk so everyone who had to ride the bus knew exactly where to line up. Nobody ever got on the wrong bus because nobody ever got in the wrong line. So why is this a recurring problem for your daughter's school district?

    I say make them fix the problem instead of forcing you to shell out money to cover it up for them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DaveV1.0 (203135)

      From the time I was in grade school until I started driving, I and all my bus-riding classmates had to remember our bus number. No "bus passes", no boarding stations, etc. We would get out of class, go out to where the buses were, find the bus, and get on it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:17PM (#28170841)

    1. Hack an iPhone or other smart phone to act as a torrent server over 3G
    2. Fill the drive with Metallica tracks
    3. Duct tape the phone to your daughter
    4. If you need to know where she is, just ask the RIIA

  • GPS + SMS. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:19PM (#28170861)

    You probably don't want it continually transmitting. Easiest way would be to it respond to a 'ping'. http://www.mightygps.com/smsgps.htm [mightygps.com] looks to fit the bill perfectly. There are probably cheaper Chinese clones. [chinavasion.com]

    Get it a SIM card and you'll be able to track her anywhere there's AT&T Signal (so you're equally fucked anyway). Google Maps API kicks ass. It's not hard to write some code to take that SMS and turn it into a dot on a map.
    -
    However I agree with the other posters. Your kid's fine. How many kids have they PERMANENTLY lost? So the kid gets on the wrong bus. Teach your daughter English and she should be able to find out where she is at any time.

    Reminds me of the mother who caught a ton of flack for letting her young son find his own way home (he asked to) from a big store in NYC.

    The people that want to rape and molest your daughter statistically are yourself or one of your brothers(-in-law)

  • Simple Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dr. Evil (3501) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:20PM (#28170871)

    Teach them their phone number and give them a bracelet or something with their address on it.

    You should also probably stop watching television. Give up on the news especially. It's just scare mongering crap.

    Oh and watch Finding Nemo. It's got some lesson in there about being an overprotective parent.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:21PM (#28170887) Homepage

    However, since it took less than three days for my local school district to misplace my daughter, I have decided that something needs to be done. By the school district's own admission it is a recurring problem of placing children on the wrong buses. Fortunately, my daughter was located, with no thanks to the local school district.

    The problem isn't that you don't have a tracking device for your daughter. The problem is that your local school district isn't doing its job correctly and regularly putting kids on the wrong bus. Instead of posting on Slashdot for a technical solution, a far better solution would be a call to your local news organizations about how the school district is getting kids lost on their bus system and admits to doing that regularly. Raise a stink at school board meetings, PTA meetings, and so forth. Get other parents involved. You're talking about a school district's incompetence endangering not only your own child but all the children in the district.

    Pretend, for instance, that you get a perfect tracking device for your daughter. That sorta solves your problem, in that you can go and pick up your daughter from wherever she was left, but doesn't solve your neighbor's problem, and doesn't solve the problem of what happens to your daughter when she's standing around in a strange neighborhood.

    • by canajin56 (660655) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:24PM (#28170961)

      a far better solution would be a call to your local news organizations about how the school district is getting kids lost on their bus system and admits to doing that regularly. Raise a stink at school board meetings, PTA meetings, and so forth. Get other parents involved. You're talking about a school district's incompetence endangering not only your own child but all the children in the district.

      Two problems with this. First, it's a lot of work. Second, he wanted a solution that runs on Linux.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dkleinsc (563838)

        My point (which a lot of other posters are making) is that OP's biggest mistake is thinking that the correct thing to do here is come up with a technical solution to figuring out where his daughter is. It's one of those instances where the engineer's "find a technical solution" instincts are not what's really needed: what's really needed is working the levers of politics to make the school district do their friggin' jobs.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:21PM (#28170895)
    I have an easy solution, take your child out of the care of these incompetents and educate her yourself.
    This is not entirely facetious. If the school can't even pay enough attention to your child to make sure that she gets on the correct bus, what makes you think they are paying enough attention to make sure that she is learning anything?
  • Wrong Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by causality (777677) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:21PM (#28170899)
    If this question came up a generation ago, before GPS trackers and similar devices were available, you would be looking for ways to better plan school events and to hold the schoolteachers and other school staff accountable for these kinds of mishaps. I think that's the right way to deal with this, though it's not the easy band-aid solution that installing a tracking device would be. In other words, the technological development of a wrong solution doesn't change what the right solution was all along.

    I just don't believe in this widespread approach of dealing only with the symptoms of problems. I might consider it (though wouldn't like it one bit) if it were a material object, but the fact that this is a human being should be all the more reason to address the actual problem. The irresponsibility of the school system and the fact that it has taken its obligations lightly is the actual core problem here. A tracking device only provides an incentive for letting them off the hook when they should have to answer for their failures. Yes, that would be much harder to arrange and would probably require political pressure from other like-minded parents, but it would be so much more worthwhile in the end.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by celtic_hackr (579828)

      Well, I have and will continue to voice my concerns about the school and it's lack of good planning. I will be bringing it before the town council, and doing what I can to prevent it from happening. However, I don't have a great deal of confidence in the district anymore. I feel for the other parents too, but my prime concern is to keep my daughter safe. I have the ability to do this and thus don't mind the expense.

      I have to go pick up my daughter now.

  • by 0racle (667029) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:21PM (#28170909)
    It's really amazing how any of us, and humanity in general, ever lived past their 10th birthday without all the 'safety' gear that is available now. What a truly wonderful time to be alive, we now finally have the tools to live on past childhood.
  • by n3umh (876572) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:22PM (#28170921) Homepage
    All you need to do is devise a complex computer with some decision making abilities and program it with information with destination coordinates in case it gets lost.

    Program it to recognize a local authority figure like a policeman or teacher and provide them with the destination information so that they can help it find home.

    I suspect the most effective hardware platform for such an application is some sort of fairly high-functioning biological organism.
  • Instamapper (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 222 (551054) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {rekeesmrots}> on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:27PM (#28170995) Homepage
    I used Instamapper on my Blackberry to provide real time / historical GPS tracking of myself. It's free, extremely easy to set up, and has Facebook integration. Be warned, GPS is a battery killer. I set all this up when I first became interested in location aware apps, and its run fine since.

    http://www.instamapper.com/ [instamapper.com]
  • Don't do it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 1u3hr (530656) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:29PM (#28171031)
    How would your device help your kid after she got on the wrong bus? Will you intercept it in your Batmobile? Worst case she spends an hour sitting on a bus till it gets back to the terminal and she gets the right one, or you pick her up. Doesn't warrant surgical implantation. School bus drivers do know how to handle kids who get the wrong bus.

    Your kid will hate you for this should you ever try to do it. And I wouldn't be surprised if you had to do a lot of explaining to child welfare agencies.

  • Falcom Mambo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dago (25724) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:30PM (#28171037)

    For a dedicated solution, you can buy a Falcom Mambo (http://www.falcom.de/products/personal-tracker/mambo/)

    Dedicated GPS tracker with an emergency button
    Long battery life
    Very Open

  • by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:31PM (#28171069)

    I believe this "Making a Child" Locating System will be of interest to many Slashdotters.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:36PM (#28171143)

    You're like someone installing a firewall when an unpatched service allows arbitrary connections, instead of patching the service.

    Your school places your daughter on the wrong bus, that's the problem. Not that you can't track her. Solve the underlying problem instead. Either storm the principal's office and fire up a storm, get the PTA (if existant) to do something about the problem (since it's a "recurring problem" you're certainly not the only parent in that situation, get in touch with the other parents) and if everything fails, get another school to teach your kids (which is probably a sensible idea anyway, if they're not able to get your daughter in the right bus and didn't manage to teach her to choose the right one, it's likely they don't manage to teach her anything else either).

    You're looking for the solution for the wrong problem. The problem isn't that you can't find your daughter. The problem is that she isn't where she should be in the first place. Don't cure the symptom, cure the sickness!

  • Educate her (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blhack (921171) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:36PM (#28171145)

    This happened to me when I was a kid. The school thought that I had signed up for Hockey, but hadn't. They sent me across town to hockey practice.
    Instead of freaking out, I got there and started playing hockey. Then I called my mom and told her to come and pick me up.
    Why? Because I didn't have psychotic over-reacting parents. I was smart enough to go "there is a problem here, I should fix it."
    And I did.

    Teach your daughter this same thing. Make her memorize your phone number.

  • escape (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:36PM (#28171155) Homepage

    My specification are: 1) a small unobtrusive device I can place on my daughter, 2) an application to pull up on any computer, a map with a dot indicating the real-time position of my child, 3) a handheld device with the equivalent information, 4) [optional] a secure web application/plug-in I can install on my own domain allowing me to track her from anyplace in the world, 5) a means of turning it all off, 6) a Linux based solution of the above.

    Wow. Perhaps she was trying to get away from you.

  • How about teaching (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BlowHole666 (1152399) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:45PM (#28171307)
    How about you just teach your child what bus to get on. Or pick your child up from school. In 20 years are you going to want your child to think it is ok to track a person? Will your child be one of the ones that says "Well my parents tracked me as a child and I was fine, so lets let the government track us". The buses have numbers written on them just teach your child what number theirs. Once you advocate tracking people as a valid solution to a problem everyone is doing it.
  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:48PM (#28171363) Homepage

    First off, write a letter explaining what has happened and send it to your school board, city council, and local newspaper-who-might-give-a-crap-about-this-kind-of-thing. Talk with your daughter's teachers, the school principal, and whoever else you need to to get some assurances that they're not going to do this again.

    Then, if you're still worried about your children being sent to the off-world colonies while you're not looking, talk with your daughter about what happened and how she can make sure she gets home on the right bus. If you really want a technological solution then buy her a mobile phone, maybe something like one of these beasties [fireflymobile.com] which can be locked down to only calling a handful of numbers (not a product endorsement, just giving an example), and make sure she knows how to call you at home if she has trouble again. Keep it charged and have her stash it in her jacket or backpack where she's unlikely to lose it. There's no need to weld it onto a metal cuff around her ankle, just let her use it to call you when she needs to.

    Hopefully you can both feel better about her security that way. You need to know that she is safe, and she needs to know that you trust her and that you are able to help her out if she has troubles. Strapping a prisoner restraint collar around her neck and monitoring her every move isn't going to do that.

  • by Dutchmaan (442553) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:53PM (#28171429) Homepage

    Remember folks, it's been said over and over and over again... First it will be tracking criminals, then it will be tracking children for their safety, then it will be tracking the general populous because they grew up with it.

    With technology come vigilance on how it's used and how it could *potentially* be used.

    Humanity, sliding down that slippery slope since 1984.

  • Crime. (Score:4, Funny)

    by EkriirkE (1075937) on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:54PM (#28171443) Homepage
    Have her repeatedly commit crimes (theft?) and local law will install an ankle bracelet. With this she should be either placed under house arrest andr hopefully be allowed to go to school. If she ever deviates from either location, law enforcement will contact you and let you know soon to be followed by them escorting her home safely.
  • Google Latitude (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LaminatorX (410794) <sabotage@@@praecantator...com> on Monday June 01, 2009 @02:59PM (#28171503) Homepage

    Prepaid cellphone with long standby life in the pocket of her backpack or book bag.Recharge the battery a couple nights a week.Manage the lattitude account yourself to ensure only appropriate monitoring.

  • Wow. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheDarkener (198348) on Monday June 01, 2009 @03:00PM (#28171519)

    Just think of when your kid gets old enough to realize you're tracking her every move. Do you think that's going to go over well with her? What if you want to keep it on her to make sure she's not going to any "unacceptable" parties? There's a BIG consequence in doing something like this, in the parent/child relationship.

    I'd go w/everyone else and say "Get her a cell phone". There are plenty out there for kids that lock down so they can't call foreign countries and text 1000s of times to her friends. Simple. If she's in trouble or lost, she can call you. No need to go CIA on her.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Monday June 01, 2009 @03:07PM (#28171661) Journal

    My daughter started carrying a cell phone in 6th grade for precisely this reason. It's paid off three times: Twice she got on the wrong school bus, and once we lost her in the press of the crowd during a parade. (That was really scary.)

    Before GPS became common, I had to rely on her description of where she was. Once (the parade incident) she had to go into a store and ask the attendant for the address. (I discourage her from asking strangers on the street, and she's afraid of the police, due to an incident a few years earlier, so we compromised on convenience store attendants. It wasn't a perfect solution.)

    Now, none of that is necessary. She carries a Blackberry Curve and I can check her location via Google Latitude on my own Blackberry. She knows that this is not because I don't trust her, but because I don't trust everyone else. Besides, she can also see my location, which forestalls "Daddy, when are you going to get here?"

    There are other tracking services, but Latitude was good enough for our purpose, and free.

    Hope this helps.

    • by vlm (69642) on Monday June 01, 2009 @04:14PM (#28172793)

      I discourage her from asking strangers on the street

      Unrealistic threat assessment. The odds of a random person she approaches being evil are almost infinitely lower than the odds of someone whom approaches her being evil. Or, given the ratio of male to female predators, just tell her to ask a female, any female.

      she's afraid of the police

      Sadly, a realistic threat assessment for people of any age, not just kids.

      compromised on convenience store attendants. It wasn't a perfect solution

      Why? I think that's perfect. The odds of a random store clerk being evil are very low. In any transaction of evil, everyone knows she's on the surveillance camera, so thats kind of a downer for that plan. Most service clerks would love to help, hoping you'll say or write something nice to the boss or the newspapers. Its easy for you to find the store, gas stations are not exactly hidden from the street, and you've probably been there before so you know exactly where it is. Short of a donut store or a police station, I can't think of a more likely place to find a cop, hopefully a good one. Tell the kid, walk in the store, stand in front of the camera, and don't leave until you arrive. Away from the unfamiliar street means low odds of car accident. Most convenience stores are basically the same around the world, so no matter how lost she is, she'll be in semi-familiar surroundings, reducing panic and the bad decisions resulting in panic. Very hard to do better....

  • We use pictures (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DnemoniX (31461) on Monday June 01, 2009 @03:18PM (#28171885)

    A) Yes you are overreacting
    B) This is pretty easy to fix

    As a parent in a city with 36 different schools and countless buses I know what you mean. But there is no reason to tag your little girl. All buses look alike, big yellow with numbers on the side. To make things easy and to avoid duplicate numbers from different bus providers they put a picture in the bus window on colored paper. So your kid might ride bus "Blue Hammer", So obviously the sign is on blue paper with a big picture of a hammer. If your kid manages to get on the wrong bus with that system, either they are not paying attention or they might need that "special" bus.

  • Wow. Just... wow. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ddillman (267710) <dgdillmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday June 01, 2009 @03:19PM (#28171903) Journal
    I am SO glad I'm not your kid. Yeah, its nice you care about your child and where they are, but this is so far above and beyond, I can't begin to express. Did your parents track your every move? If so, how did that make you feel?
  • by btempleton (149110) on Monday June 01, 2009 @04:07PM (#28172699) Homepage

    You're upset that your daughter was lost, and everybody understands that. But you must consider what it means to have what you ask for become a trend, and to have the infrastructure built to make it easy to do.

    Perhaps when your child is 6 nobody will claim she has any rights, and you are free to lojack her. But then we will have to ask the question, when does she gain some dignity and rights, at what age does it become a bad idea for you to do this? At what age should it actually be illegal for you to do this? We have not had to ask that question until you do it.

    Location services all beg the question of what to do when one person is in power over another and can demand location data. You can over your young child, and more debatably over your older child. Can employers ask it of employees? On their breaks? Can husbands ask it of wives? Not demand it, you understand, but ask, as in, "Honey, what's wrong with me knowing where you are? Think how handy it would be. Don't you trust me? Don't you love me?"

    This is the world you will help build. But it gets worse. You see, there will be flaws in the system. Not just hackable security issues, but mistakes. After a custody battle, somebody will forget to turn off the non-custodial parent's access to the location data on the child. This will assist in many kidnappings. (As you may not know, the vast, vast, vast majority of kidnappings are by relatives. The random stranger that everybody is afraid of barely exists.) Perhaps not in your case, but in many people's in this world you are creating.

    A better idea? Teach your child, if lost, to approach a suitable adult, and hand them a card or show them her bracelet, which has your cell phone numbers on it. We tell children not to talk to strangers, but we forget to mention that means not to talk to strangers who approach *you*. It is perfectly fine to talk to strangers the child selects for help, more than fine, it's the right thing for her to do. Or sew the number in the lining of her coat, or shoes, or lunchbox or whatever. If you really think it's bad for her to approach strangers, teach her to identify police, teachers, people in uniform etc, but tell her that if she can't find one of those to approach any nicely dressed person.

    She'll be fine.

  • by DeanFox (729620) * <spam DOT myname AT gmail DOT com> on Monday June 01, 2009 @07:13PM (#28175397)

    I thank God I grew up before cell phones and this 24/7 parental obsession. My son has several friends in those last few years of parental control and it's driving me nutz. We can't even get together and watch a movie uninterrupted.

    One friend, his parents will call to tell him they're leaving his dinner in the fridge. Then call to tell him that the potatoes were over cooked, then call again to ask about next weeks soccer game. And it's literally every 10-20 minutes. If he doesn't answer, they call, call again and again... We'll stop the movie while he takes the call only to find out it's his mom wanting to tell him that next Saturday he has to go to Grandmas or something just as meaningless. If he complains "I'm in the middle of a movie!" She'll bark back "Too bad!, that's why we pay for unlimited cell usage, blah, blah, blah... so we can get a hold of you when we have too. Emphasis on "when we have too" is mine as it's apparently very subjective.

    It's absurd. And, yes, I'm a father.

    If I can't go a night not knowing where my son is, I didn't do my job as a parent. The world is not that scary nor dangerous. My son has a cell and knows how and when to dial 911 if he needs too. And I can certainly go a night not following a red dot on some tracking web page. I am sorry sir, but your fear is way over the top. Of course, as with anything else, that's just my opinion. Is is however a fear that you do share with a lot of other parents. Fear of what I wouldn't know as I don't share it.

    Even in this case of a younger female home late from elementary school because she got on the wrong bus. I still don't see the need for this level of panic or overreaction. But, that's just me. I suspect my son appreciates the levelheadedness of the home he grows up in. I expect his friends do as it's here they all congregate.

    -[d]-

The best way to avoid responsibility is to say, "I've got responsibilities."

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