2016 Winner: Societal Impact Award
Using GPS to Combat Mental Health Issues
Dementia is an increasingly troublesome issue in society, with an estimated 131.5 million people worldwide being affected by 2050. In an effort to support this growing problem, many products are being developed to help people living with dementia and other cognitive disorders.
SafeTracks GPS Canada Inc. is at the forefront of this fight. The Red-Deer based company is making important progress with their new product, the TRiLOC™. This device monitors people with dementia at all times, and is described as the “world’s most advanced wearable and lockable GPS tracking device,” says SafeTracks president Vince Morelli.
Providing Security and Peace of Mind
The TRiLOC™ provides several levels of security measures beyond GPS monitoring. One additional benefit is the two-way voice communications system built into the device, which allows a third party and the wearer to communicate via an internal cellular connection. SafeTracks is planning a national 24/7 call centre to handle emergency calls from this and other SafeTracks products.
The TRiLOC™ is also useful in preventative situations. The device sends alert notifications via text and email to caregivers when the person with dementia has exited and entered the virtual geo-fence safe zone.
Utilizing the proprietary Blue Beacon™ technology in connection with the TRiLOC™ increases monitoring abilities in facilities, apartment buildings and other structures where GPS signals are typically erratic.
Together these features fulfill SafeTracks’ goal of helping people touched by cognitive diseases enjoy personal freedom while also providing a high degree of security.
“Our caregivers are looking for an answer to keep mom or dad at home longer, or to protect them while everyone is away at work,” says Morelli. “Our product gives them this peace of mind by allowing them to do these things while ensuring that their family member is safe and secure.”
Building on Success
After developing the TRiLOC™ in 2013, Alberta Health Services and the University of Alberta conducted a 12-month trial to determine how the device made a difference in the lives of people living with dementia. The trial concluded the TRiLOC™ along with other SafeTracks devices, has an 89% success rate, which Morelli describes as “unheard of” in the industry.
The success of this trial sparked another trial between SafeTracks and Alberta Health Services. “In this new program, we’ve allocated 400 TRiLOC™ devices to be used by Alberta Health Services so that they can get them into the hands of the people who need them,” says Morelli.
This trial should help spread public awareness about the TRiLOC™, which is one of SafeTracks’ biggest challenges. “Developing the technology isn’t our issue, it’s trying to get the product out into the world,” explains Morelli. “We’re relying on word-of-mouth right now, so we’re constantly looking for support to get TRiLOC™ into public awareness.”
SafeTracks is currently working towards a second version of the product to be released in late 2017. The new version will include enhanced features and a smaller and sleeker body.