Monday, December 31, 2018

Chinese schools enforce 'smart uniforms' with GPS tracking to surveil students

Ten schools in China have new "intelligent uniforms" that will track students' whereabouts with embedded computer chips.

The uniforms, which are equipped with GPS devices developed by a local tech firm, are meant to ensure that students don't skip class. Alarms are set to go off if a student walks out of the school building or falls asleep during a lesson.

According to state-run media, although the school’s administrators and parents have access to the location data, Principal of Renhuai Lin Zongwu said that "we choose not to check the accurate location of students after school."

Zongwu also noted that attendance rates have risen dramatically since the uniform’s introduction.

The company's project manager told the state-run Global Times that the two chips embedded in the uniforms can be washed up to 500 times and can withstand temperatures up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to ABC, the company posted a public statement saying the uniforms "focus on safety issues" and provide a "smart management method" that benefits students, teachers and parents.

The chips can also reportedly be used as a cashless payment system for snacks bought on school grounds, although parents and the school would see everything a student buys.

In addition, if students try to swap uniforms in order to leave the campus, the system is designed to prevent that: Facial recognition scanners at school gates match the chips with the correct student, reports the Telegraph.

The technology, which is being used in China's southwest province of Guizhou, has apparently sparked debate on China's social media platforms.

"I think it's alright," wrote Yi Zhi Sirius on China's micro-blogging site, Weibo, according to the Telegraph. "First, it avoids the jobless and homeless gangsters or potential criminals from entering the schools; second, the uniforms will come in handy in cases of locating missing students."

Another user said: "It is horrifying. I imagine the parents agreed to this after being brainwashed."

Two years ago, China's Ministry of Education touted the development of "smart campuses" as part of its Five Year Plan.


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