A Smart bracelet could soon be helping civil rights and aid workers at risk of being kidnapped or killed. When triggered, the personal alarm uses phone and sat-nav technology to warn that its wearer is in danger. Warnings are sent in the form of messages to Facebook and Twitter to rally support and ensure people do not disappear without trace.
The first bracelets are being given out this week and funding is being sought to make many more. The bracelets have been developed by the Civil Rights Defenders campaign group in a bid to help workers in war zones and other areas of conflict.
The chunky bracelet has mobile phone technology buried within it which can send prepared messages when the gadget is triggered. Alerts can be sent manually by a rights worker if they feel under threat or are triggered automatically if the bracelet is forcefully removed. The alarm sends out information about its owner and where they were when they were attacked. Other staff nearby will also be alerted so they can start to take action to help anyone in distress.
Civil Rights Defenders wants people to sign up to monitor the bracelets of individual rights workers via social media. It hopes the global involvement will act as a deterrent to anyone planning attacks on aid workers. "Most of us, given the chance, would like to help others in danger," said Civil Rights Defenders' executive director Robert Hardh. "These civil rights defenders are risking their lives for others to have the right to vote, or to practise religion or free speech."
Those who monitor bracelets can also help bring pressure to bear on governments to find or release people abducted or jailed. In total, 55 bracelets will be given out by the end of 2014. The rights group started work on the gadget in the wake of the kidnapping and murder of Chechen rights worker Natalia Estemirova in 2009. Ms Estemirova had been involved in documenting the alleged abuse of civilians by militias.