You don’t have to be mad to walk here

April 19th, 2007

Tagging plan for vulnerable OAPs

Charities today gave a guarded welcome to a proposal by the science minister, Malcolm Wicks, that vulnerable older people could be tracked via satellite-monitored tags.

Mr Wicks first floated the idea to the Commons science and technology committee yesterday, when he said monitoring tags could help families or carers to track the whereabouts of “an 80 or 90-year-old who may have Alzheimer’s”.

I fail to see why this is any business of the State or why the minister should be promoting this. It seems like more technology looking for a problem.

Charities including Help the Aged and the Alzheimer’s Society warned that such tagging would have to be carried out with great sensitivity and full consent, and should not become a substitute for proper care.


Today, Mr Wicks said he had been hoping to “start a discussion” about an idea that could allow elderly people more independence.

He told Guardian Unlimited he had met satellite tracking experts and asked them whether the sort of technology used for tracking cars could be adapted.

Yes but WHY is HE as a minister so interested?

“This is not government policy, it’s my idea for discussion – all I’m saying is that we’ve got this big social question which is growing in importance,” he said.


Nothing of this sort should be government policy, and the minister – as a representative of the government – should not be seeking this ‘solution’ either.

If individuals really thought this was a good idea some enterprising person would have come up with a business offering this service. They haven’t (or perhaps Mr Wicks has been treated to a good lunch).

Of course in the (moon)light of the wet dream of total awareness this seems like a ‘good cop’ softening up of the population for RFID tracking (what these tags would apparently use) and will serve the operators with some valuable data about the reliability of tracking the population (who are more ‘random’ than cars in their movements).

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