Here at InChina Tech we try to report the good as well as the controversial topics. Today we found out that some schools in China use so-called intelligent uniforms to monitor an track their students. The program has started in 2016 and so far more than 10 schools in Southwest China’s Guizhou Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region have adopted the uniforms. They report that attendance rates improved since the technology has been adopted, but obviously, this raises some privacy concerns.
The students are tracked when they enter and leave the schools thanks to two chip embedded in the fabric. Furthermore, to make sure that students don’t swap or lend uniforms, there are facial recognition cameras at checkpoints that raise an alert if the uniform does not match the student wearing it. The time of entry and exit are recorded and the data is later sent to the parents and teachers. Also, if they leave school during normal hours without permission, a “voice alarm” is triggered. Furthermore, it seems that the location of the children can also be tracked. According to a spokesperson: “We choose not to check the accurate location of students after school, but when the student is missing and skipping classes, the uniforms help locate them.” This, however, is uncertain on how it works since GPS tracking requires batteries that need to be recharged.
Is it good or bad? I believe it is a rather gray area with some positive aspects, like increased security at entrances, and some negative ones like limiting freedom (for lack of a better word) and increasing monitoring in a communist country where the state tries to control as much as possible the actions of its residents.