“Your attention please! A little boy is lost, he is six years old and wearing a Mickey Mouse bathing suit,” blared the loudspeakers at a beach in Castellón a few weeks ago, in a bid to find the missing child.
The call was repeated half-a-dozen times. The last message was issued more than 15 minutes later, to announce that the boy had been found and to thank everyone for their help. Bathers broke into a round of applause.
The chips contain the parents’ contact information. No data is outwardly visible, in compliance with privacy laws
Despite the successful search, the city of Castellón has decided to replace the loudspeakers with chips. In a pioneering project, the authorities in this Mediterranean town are handing out intelligent bracelets with chips containing the parents’ contact information. No data is outwardly visible, in compliance with privacy laws.
Patricia Puerta, the councilor in charge of beach affairs, says that these are the first bracelets of their kind to be distributed along the Spanish coast. There are other systems around, including bracelets with a QR code or a registration number associated with a contact that only law-enforcement officers can access.
Inés Casanova, a technician at the local Tourism Board, says that 60 bracelets have already been used after beachgoers picked them up at a dedicated stand on a Castellón beach.
Six children who got lost were wearing one of these devices, but most missing people were not. “Of all of those individuals who got lost until now, practically none of them was wearing one,” explains Simón Casinos, head of the lifeguard team.
Two or three children get lost a day on average, especially those in the six- to 10-year-old range.
“My nephew saw them and wanted to wear one,” says Mónica Grecu about the six-year-old. “He said to his mom, ‘It's not to look nice, but in case I get lost!’”
The free bracelets come with Near Field Communication technology, which enables data transfer among mobile devices. The scheme is being piloted for now in Castellón, with possibilities of a wider roll-out in the future.