It’s certainly valuable data, but the drug can be difficult to swallow.
Many business owners use Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking to optimize the use of their valuable assets such as vehicles and people. GPS tracking applications provide a variety of data including real-time location of the plant (where it is now), historical data (where the plant was located), and other related information (what the plant was doing). These applications often have analytical components that present the evaluated data, such as B. a driver scorecard that can help the business owner take steps to further optimize their assets.
GPS technology is easily transferable to healthcare, where researchers can record real-time information and history and link that information with other existing clinical data. There are wearables that show heart rate, breathing, steps, and GPS location. There are other GPS trackers that are worn by the elderly or the disabled to inform caregivers of their daily activities. There are even wearables that can translate and track gestures to recognize important tasks like smoking and eating.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, technological surveillance can play an important role (current and future) in monitoring social engagement and distancing. Simple GPS tracking apps could be downloaded onto phones and local authorities could review data to ensure residents only go to key businesses and not travel outside of the designated areas. In addition, public health officials could enforce the quarantine of infected people or their contacts.
This idea is playing out at home and abroad. In the United States, GPS data was used to show the spread of Fort Lauderdale, FL beach goers at a time when social distancing was highly recommended but not enforced. The data showed how far they traveled in a week from a single beach in Fort Lauderdale to cities in the eastern United States, potentially spreading diseases, including New York, Chicago, New Orleans and Houston.
South Korea has also used smartphone and geolocation technology to track symptoms and locations. In addition, a study from Finland published in the International Journal of Computer Applications examined the use and impact of GPS tracking in a cohort of elderly citizens. The authors found that successful use was related to ease of use and GPS connectivity. The study participants stated that they felt an increased feeling of independence and that it was easier to cope with everyday life with the help of tracking devices. It is interesting to note that people in this use case experienced an increased sense of independence in connection with additional personal monitoring.
As powerful as this information may be, the role of ethics in mass surveillance dominates the discussion. These discussions are held at the highest levels, including on Google, Facebook, the White House, and even at the family table. The ethics surrounding the use of GPS technology were discussed in an article published in the Journal of Global Health in 2019. The authors reviewed a case study of mothers who wanted to look after their children under the age of 5 and raised concerns about privacy and the fact that the GPS device could be turned off or given to someone else, which would corrupt the data. The authors included a strong duality that defines this concept in society today.
GPS-based motion tracking is a classic example of the “double-edged sword” for its use in health research, as the detailed information it can uncover is both the source of its research value and associated ethical concerns .
It’s easy to see the value of GPS tracking applications in a pandemic in both business and healthcare. Perhaps the concerns expressed by many people about the surveillance itself and the exploitation that can occur during times of social crisis like COVID-19 are just as easy to spot. Some recent and practical applications have shown that while these concerns are significant, they are resolved practically rather than philosophically.
Kathleen Zemlachenko, VP Marketing for Guardian Tracking Systems, has extensive experience in the use of GPS-based location and data analysis. As a proponent of this technology, her findings clearly demonstrate the precarious nature on which success can be built:
Our experience is that function develops when anxiety is alleviated. From business owners to clinicians, good data leads to better decisions. Gaining trust by identifying successes and benefits has made tracking less of an option and more an indispensable tool that is embraced by everyone involved. This trust is the linchpin of our success.
We are living at a technological turning point today. Or, as some might say, a technological turning point. The social imperative of containment and containment of the COVID-19 virus has transformed the intellectual and social landscape, forcing us to think about what could be life or death and good or bad. The reality is, as so often before, a change that is defined as “the rule of the broken equilibrium”, in which innovation is pushed on us in times of human upheaval. As we flatten the curve, we need to keep our minds sharp and apply the power of technology with a human touch.