Children lost in city centres could soon be reunited with their parents by using an ingenious tagging device being tested by bus shelter contractor Adshel.
Under the scheme youngsters are given a bracelet to wear containing a sensor – called a “tracelet” – which they cannot take off. If they get lost, they can go to the nearest bus shelter and swipe their tracelet against a small electronic strip on the shelter.
This tells the Adshel service centre for that area where the child is waiting. Meanwhile, parents telephone an Adshel help number, give a code number which matches their child’s tracelet, and are then told the exact location of the bus shelter where they can find their youngster.
Peter Smyth, managing director of the More Group in the UK (which owns Adshel), says: “We hope tracelets give adults with children the sense of security to come into city centres to do their shopping, instead of going to out-of-town sites.”
The company is also testing “self-diagnostic” bus shelters, which have sensors on the structure that indicate when, for instance, a pane of glass is broken or a lighting tube blows, the service centre is informed by an electronic link.
Both innovations are part of Adshel’s pitch for the New York bus shelter and street furniture contract, but if successful could be introduced to the UK market.
The $50m (31m) New York pitch, believed to be the biggest in the world, involves building 3,500 bus shelters and a number of newsstands and toilets. The shortlist is understood to consist of Adshel, JC Decaux, a German company Wall collaborating with US contractor OSI, and TDI in conjunction with Spanish company Cemusa. A decision has been delayed until after the election of a new city mayor in November.