- By Elizabeth F. RalphElizabeth Ralph is a researcher at Foreign Policy.
There’s the FitBit for fitness fanatics, the Pebble Watch for people who think their cell phones are too big, and Google Glasses for fancy sportsmen or irritating entrepreneurs. And now, there are high-tech life-trackers for human rights activists too — devices that might save their lives.
Designed by Civil Rights Defenders (CRD), these high-tech bracelets — dubbed the "The Natalia Project" after activist Natalia Estemirova who, in 2009, was abducted from her home in Chechnya and murdered for her activism — are designed to serve as the first assault alarm system for human rights defenders at risk of being kidnapped or killed, according to a press release published by the organization on Friday.
When triggered — either by the wearer or by the device being forcibly removed — the durable bracelet/personal alarm uses GPS and smartphone technology to send a message with the time and the bracelet’s location to the phones of colleagues in close proximity and to CRD headquarters in Stockholm. In an interesting social media twist, CRD will also notify anyone around the world who has signed up to receive distress signal alerts via SMS, Facebook, and Twitter. The organization hopes that those who have signed up to monitor the activists’ safety will in turn spread the word via social media, raising awareness and putting pressure on those responsible for the attack or kidnapping.
It’s a life-tracking device that could very well live up to its name.