track map

Using Sensors and 3D Maps to Track Children In Your Facility

Are children allowed in your facility? Have you ever lost one?

With the right technology, you never have to lose another child on-premises again.

Hosting other people’s children on your property has always come with a certain amount of risk. If one gets hurt, sick, or lost, there is a chance that you could be held liable and even if there is not a lawsuit, it could still be bad press. That, of course, doesn’t stop the millions of commercial buildings that host children every day. From theme parks to office buildings with internal daycares, children go where their parents go, and there’s very little anyone can do to change that so the most practical path is to accept it. While you may beef up your liability insurance and do your best to provide enough security and supervision for on-premise children, there is always a better way to reduce the chances of anyone getting hurt, lost, or causing undue worry for parents.

Keeping Track of On-Site Children

When there are children inside your facility, every staff member needs to be on greater alert, not just for children in danger but also the possibility of children getting lost, hiding, or even managing to escape the facility without their parents. On-site daycares are one of the best solutions anyone has come up with for managing children on your commercial property simply because you can corral all the children into one place. However, this solution only works to a certain extent.

Children who roam the facility with their parents are still at risk of getting lost simply because parents aren’t infallible, but if a child gets hurt on your premises, it will be your business on the line making it increasingly important to have a universal child management solution. Fortunately, the continuing rise in technology has made it possible to drastically improve the results of your child management plan. All you need is a digital map of your facility and child-sized RFID bracelets.

Guest Tracking vs Child Tracking

Tracking guest location is not a new concept. Even before wireless tracking technology, venues would pay big guys with walkie-talkies and security cameras to make sure no one was entering employee-only areas or straying from their security-approved paths. However, as wireless technology progresses, so too does our ability to keep track of people inside a facility. Many stores are already using smart-phone tracking apps to track their shoppers from department to department, but when it comes to tracking children, a cell phone app isn’t going to cut it.

While many children today do have their own phones, this isn’t universal. And, of course, the youngest children who need the most supervision almost never have their own mobile devices. Children don’t always have mobile devices, they can move very quickly, and they can hide in unexpected places making it all the more important to know exactly where they are at all times. To do this, we can take a page from the most child-capable company in the world: Disney.

How Disney is Using RFID Bracelets

Disney World has begun using something they call MagicBands which, for all intents and purposes, are just really comfortable RFID bracelets. These bracelets have two signals, one long-range that track location anywhere with receivers placed around the facility and one short-range signal that works to activate things like room locks and ride passes. Why not use the same technology, combined with a great facility map, to make sure every child on your premises is safely located at all times?

Building the Map

Technically, the first thing you need is a detailed digital map of your facility. Ideally, one that is 3D to allow you to actively track and display a child’s location no matter what level they are on and, in some cases, even when they have crawled into an unusual area. A 3D map of your facility is easier to make than you might realize if you work with the right software and asset development team.

You can create a complete 3D facility map (indoors and outdoors) that connects smoothly a website and/or management application so that you can quickly begin exploring your map and tracking assets. From here, you can do everything from virtual tours to security procedures but today, we’re focusing on the kids.

Designing the Bracelets

The design of your safety RFID bracelets matters a great deal. As resorts and theme parks have been discovering for decades, kids tend to hate those thin plastic colored bracelets that mark one type of guest from another. They will chew at the bracelets, complain about them, and the smarter kids might even seek out a pair of scissors. The key is to make your bracelets both attractive and comfortable so that children don’t feel the need to worry about them or try to remove them.

Disney World decided to go with silicone on one side and felt on the other, ensuring that the bracelets were soft on the skin while still holding the component parts inside. This is a great place to start but you might alternately choose a sturdy cloth design or even a woven ‘friendship’ bracelet style band instead. We also suggest that you prepare to provide bracelets in a variety of colors: children often care more about their favorite color than any particular attire.

Finally, make sure you can track each bracelet individually. This can allow you to assign bracelets when a child enters the facility and find a specific missing child if worried parents arrive requesting a search.

Working With the Parents

When your bracelets are ready and their locations accurately appear on your map, it’s time to implement. While parents might be wary at first, a quick explanation should have the vast majority of adults on-board. Whether you’re running a shopping mall where kids can get lost in thousands of square feet of stores or a corporate daycare where parents have to leave their children for many hours a day, this is the ideal way to make sure not a single child disappears from your facility or can wander away from supervision for more than a few minutes.

Once kids are wearing the bracelets, there are a wide number of things you can do to keep them safe, from self-locking doors that don’t allow children to alarms that go off when bracelets cross certain thresholds. In fact, you might even be able to connect parents to their child’s location through a mobile app so that your security team doesn’t always have to get involved with tracking a runaway toddler.

Conclusion

With the power of a detailed 3D map and RFID bracelets, you never have to lose another child in your facility again. No overwrought parents, no children lost for hours, and no lawsuits for failing to keep children within child-safe areas.

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