SEOUL, July 21 (Korea Bizwire) – As cases of missing dementia patients increase, the Korean government is teaming up with police services and a mobile carrier to develop a location position system to easily track down lost patients.
The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning signed an MoU with SK Telecom, Jeonnam Provincial Police Agency and the Korea Ecology and Environment Institute (KEEI) on July 21 to develop the location positioning system and device.
The location positioning system will be developed based on an existing wildlife tracking chip known as the WT200, which is currently used to analyze the migratory routes of birds and mammals.
Current positioning devices for dementia patients need to be recharged every eight hours, and are easy to lose as they are worn around the neck. In addition, as the location positioning systems are sometimes only accurate to 100m, they lack effectiveness to detect missing patients.
The ministry will make a new positioning device featuring a lithium-ion battery that can be used for up to six months without being recharged, and with sensors measuring a patient’s pulse and body temperature, enabling operators to react quickly in the case of urgent medical situations. To reduce loss, the new trackers will have a form factor similar to that of a watch, and will be worn on patient’s wrists.
Moreover, as they will use SK Telecom’s commercial mobile network, the accuracy will be much improved, with an error range lowered to less than 10 meters. With a global roaming feature, they can be used even during overseas travel.
The South Jeolla provincial police agency will test the system and devices that are developed until the end of this year.
The ministry expects that the number of dementia patients in Korea will increase to one million in 2025. As the number keeps increasing, missing reports have been rising at a 7.2 percent annual rate, from 7,650 in 2012 and 7,983 in 2013 to 8,207 in 2014.
By John Choi (email@example.com)