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Practical issues in the selection and use of GPS tracking and location technologies to support vulnerable people at risk of becoming lost or threatened

Gareth Williams (Managing Director, T‐Cubed Ltd, Centre for Advanced Software Technology, Bangor, UK)
Peter King (Telecare Support Engineer, T‐Cubed Ltd, Centre for Advanced Software Technology, Bangor, UK)
Kevin Doughty (Deputy Director, Centre for Usable Home Technology, University of York, York, UK)

Journal of Assistive Technologies

ISSN: 1754-9450

Article publication date: 16 September 2011

Abstract

Purpose

This paper is aimed at telecare service providers and individuals who are aiming to manage the risks to a vulnerable person, who may be prone to becoming lost away from their own home. It aims to help them identify the issues that may be relevant in specifying the most appropriate GPS location device from the many models now on the market.

Design/methodology/approach

The reported study is based on a comparison of six commercial devices with three different form characteristics. Technical measures of performance were undertaken in an objective manner for each device. These were considered along with the subjective views of a panel of stake‐holders looking at issues such as usability, wearability and aesthetics in determining value for money and the optimum device for individual users.

Findings

The work concluded that battery management was of vital importance, and that the use of geo‐fencing for alarm purposes was often limited by the minimum practical size of the fence and by the way that it could be established.

Originality/value

It is recommended that service providers employ a range of GPS devices within their inventories, so that they are not limited to one or two different devices when prescribing telecare services to people who are at risk of wandering, especially at night. The variation in cost between the most expensive and the cheapest can be justified in terms of service support and other options. These devices are most likely to be of benefit when used within a telecare service that can offer 24‐hour monitoring and links to a dedicated emergency response team.

Keywords

Citation

Williams, G., King, P. and Doughty, K. (2011), "Practical issues in the selection and use of GPS tracking and location technologies to support vulnerable people at risk of becoming lost or threatened", Journal of Assistive Technologies, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 146-151. https://doi.org/10.1108/17549451111173505

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited