People are assets, too …

People are assets, too …

Reading about WebTech's new people tracker made me wonder if such a service exists in South Africa. It's all very well being able to track our cars, which get stolen or hijacked with alarming regularity, but … what about us?

One of South Africa's mobile phone service providers, Vodacom, is pushing adverts for two new services: Look4Help and Look4me, both operated by CellFind.

The idea of Look4help is that your mobile phone becomes a panic button, sending a distress SMS – along with your location – to as many as four contacts nominated by you. And for a period of time specified by you (up to two hours), those contacts can Look4you in case your location changes.

The service works on any phone capable of sending an SMS; you don't need a GPS-enabled phone.

CellFind is looking at the possibility of a Look4help alert being sent to a CellFind control room as well.

Meanwhile, Altech Netstar has also launched a personal tracking and emergency response service. The GuardianTM is a mobile GPS/GSM-based tracking system triggered by an SOS feature on the handheld device. The alert is sent to Altech Netstar as well as two other emergency numbers (via SMS).

GPS positioning information is transmitted via GPRS to provide real-time positions and historical movement reports.

With CellFind's Look4help, you'd better hope that one of your four nominated contacts is willing and able to rescue you. But at R12.70 a month and no device to purchase, that's as good as it gets.

Altech Netstar uses ground crew and helicopters for locate and rescue missions, but for this level of service you pay R999 for the Guardian unit and R139 per month on a two-year contract.

Existing Altech Netstar subscribers (e.g. those who subscribe to Netstar's vehicle tracking service) pay nothing upfront for the Guardian unit and then R99 per month for 24 months.

Tracker South Africa (affiliated to LoJack), hasn't exactly ruled out the possibility of people-tracking, but it's not something they're looking at right now.

So now we can track our vehicles, ourselves, and even our pets (e.g. Petbuddi, Pawtrack, Zoombak). Is there anything we can't track?

Yes, says an industry colleague: "I wish one of these companies would develop a tracking device that can be installed in a person's name. That way, if I go out with my mates and happen to throw my name away, someone will be able to find it for me."

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