Deputy sees GPS as way to protect elderly

By Cao Yin (China Daily)
Updated: 2014-03-11 07:31

After telling how his friend's elderly father had been lost for several months, Huang Daifang, an NPC deputy from Jiangxi province, suggested that governments should buy GPS products for families with older members.

"If we could have pinned a GPS chip in the old man's clothes, he might have been found easily and his family members would not have been worried," said Huang, who is chairman of Tellhow Group, a technology company in Jiangxi.

To prevent senior citizens' becoming lost - especially those older than 70 or who have Alzheimer's disease - Huang called on the government to pay money to provide GPS products.

"Implanting a GPS into a coat or wrist strap is not difficult for technology companies, so I hope these enterprises and some designers can also join me to help senior citizens," he said.

Xu Yi, another deputy from the province, liked the idea and urged that local governments make the issue a priority.

"The GPS can be connected with a mobile phone that is controlled by the old people's children," he said. "If the young people find their parents or old relatives missing, they can share the GPS information with the police."

Advanced technology has been provided as part of the services for the elderly at the community level, according to Xu, calling it an emerging trend in an aging society.

"We encourage technology and Internet companies to support the old residents who are unable to go out, who are living alone or who have lower incomes, aiming to provide more convenience in their daily life," said Xu, who is head of the provincial financing authority.

Xu added that a number of companies have installed a simple emergency system in old people's homes in some communities, allowing the elderly to call for help by pressing a button on a phone, he said.

"When the phone rings, social workers in the communities will know and rush to provide medical aid or other services," he said. "The practice is being extended across the province."

Xu said it's a reality in today's China that most people still choose to spend their old age at home. "How to improve services in communities should be taken into consideration" he said.

"It's urgent to find some big companies to make wrist straps implanted with GPS. The government should also provide them with privileges, such as a tax reduction."

"The GPS product must be free and become a part of public welfare. Only in this way can the lives of senior citizens and the quality of services provided to them be improved," he said.

Company's commitment

Last year, Qihoo 360, one of China's technology giants, introduced a similar product, a wrist strap for kids. The company has showed interest in a system for the elderly.

Designing and providing a GPS product of this type provides a public benefit, the company said, and it plans to go on developing and promoting such devices.

The intelligent wrist strap for kids, designed by Qihoo in different colors, can monitor a child's location and record voices after parents download an application on their cellphones, according to Ji Shen, a manager responsible for the product.

Thousands of children go missing every year in China, Ji said, with some falling victim to sexual assault or other crimes.

"So our company decided to help the children and their families, aiming to make a contribution to keeping young people secure via our smart platform and technology," Ji said.