Kids are unpredictable and easily distracted – and any parent or teacher knows well how fast a kid can simply wander off. In fact, whenever a teacher takes a group of students outside the classroom, such as to go on a field trip, one of their greatest challenges – and causes of stress – is trying to keep track of everyone. There are simply too many tragedies that begin with a child wandering away from the group to not do everything possible to minimise this risk.
Now, thanks to the CENTRIP early warning system, teachers can utilise GNSS-enabled technology to constantly track and locate each individual student.
Giving teachers another set of eyes
The winner of this year’s GSA ‘EU at 60 – Space for Europe’ Special Prize at the European Satellite Navigation Conference (ESNC), CENTRIP (ChildrEN TRIp Protector) was developed out of the ESA/JRC summer school on GNSS. The CENTRIP team is led by Ewa Kadziolka and includes Philipp Muller, Terri Richardson, Yahao Cheng and Niccolo Gastaldello. “The idea behind CENTRIP is to increase the safety of children and lower the stress for teachers trying to keep track of a large group of students by using low-cost, easy to use technology,” she says. “For us, GNSS was clearly the way to go.”
GSA Executive Director Carlos des Dorides commented that the GSA Special Prize winner focussed on the protection of Europe’s most valuable asset - its children. “It is one of the first GNSS tracking systems to offer an affordable solution for simultaneously tracking multiple people. Plus, it is designed to work indoors, outdoors and even underground on a metro, so it can be effective in all learning environments,” he said.
CENTRIP combines GNSS (including Galileo) and ZigBee technology to set a geo-fence around a specified area. With the CENTRIP system, each child wears a lightweight, durable bracelet that contains a GNSS tracking device. Each teacher, on the other hand, is provided with an intuitive and easy-to-use device that helps track the location of each child.
If a student strays away from the group and outside the specified area, both the student and the teacher receive alerts. The audio alert on the child’s wristband is meant to get their attention, causing them to ‘look up’ and see that they’ve wandered away from the group, whereas the teacher’s alert shows the child’s location on the screen of their CENTRIP device. Using the tracking information, the teacher can then quickly and easily track and find the student before they wander out of sight.
Ready for every type of field trip
According to Kadziolka, one of the key features of the device is its flexibility. “CENTRIP is designed to work indoors and outdoors and even underground on a metro, meaning it can be used in all learning environments,” she says. As a school group moves from, for example, the metro to a park and into a museum, the teacher can constantly adjust the parameters of the geo-fence based on the risk. “If a group is waiting for a metro, the teacher can keep the parameters within meters, but if they are in the park and they want to give the kids more freedom, the parameters can be easily expanded directly from their CENTRIP device.”
Thanks to the system’s use of GNSS, CENTRIP also offers an array of helpful location-based information. “Based on the group’s location, CENTRIP can
provide the teacher with the location of the closest hospital, a list of local emergency numbers and even stores where they can go and get necessary supplies,” explains Kadziolka. As an add-on feature, CENTRIP has the possibility to incorporate a SIM card, which adds an additional layer of protection so if a kid does happen to wander out of the system’s parameters, the teacher can still track their location using the same CENTRIP device.
From idea to reality
Ewa and the CENTRIP team now have the opportunity to make CENTRIP a reality. “We thought we had a good idea that could harness the power of European GNSS in order to keep kids safe,” she says. “Being awarded the Special Prize is a validation of the value that our idea will bring to schools across Europe and, hopefully someday, the world.”
Thanks to the support provided by the 60 Years of EU Special Prize, the team is now set to develop their idea at a suitable incubation centre of their choice within the EU28 for six months, with the option of a six-month extension based on an evaluation after the first six-month period (a total value of up to EUR 40,000).
About the GSA 60 Years of EU Prize
In celebration of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which laid the foundation for building the EU, the GSA 60 Years of EU Special Prize focused on the contribution that Europe’s space programmes – and in particular European GNSS – make to European integration. The prize was awarded during last night’s (7 November 2017) annual European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) and Copernicus Masters ceremony, Europe’s pre-eminent innovation competitions for space applications.
The 2017 edition of the ESNC again received a remarkable number of entries. CENTRIP’s winning idea was competing against a total of 76 entries from 16 business sectors – including 28 start-ups, 11 SMEs, nine universities and 23 individuals.
“According to the GSA’s 2017 Market Report, personal tracking devices will soon become the fastest growing market within the LBS sector – with many solutions using Galileo for enhanced performances,” says GSA Executive Director Carlo des Dorides. “CENTRIP is following this trend. The concept is unique as there is no such solution on the market that monitors groups of children.”
Des Dorides notes how the CENTRIP team is very motivated to enter the market. “They have a clear, convincing business plan that proves their aim to commercialise the product in the short term,” he adds. “In fact, CENTRIC already has potential customers, as some nurseries from Germany have expressed interest in wanting to implement the solution.”
The annual event recognises the most outstanding applications for Copernicus and European GNSS (Galileo and EGNOS) in various categories. Since 2014, the awards ceremony has been associated with the Satellite Masters Conference. The conference, which this year took place in Tallinn, Estonia and was a part of European Space Week, features an array of plenary sessions, workshops and roundtable discussions centred on leveraging satellite-derived data and other space solutions for business and society. It serves as a unique marketplace for sharing ideas on space-based innovation and connecting with the world’s leading network for downstream satellite businesses.
Media note: This feature can be republished without charge provided the European GNSS Agency (GSA) is acknowledged as the source at the top or the bottom of the story. You must request permission before you use any of the photographs on the site. If you republish, we would be grateful if you could link the article back to the GSA website (http://www.gsa.europa.eu).