“Happy GPS”: Protecting Lives by Preventing Missing Cases

By February 20, 2020 March 10th, 2020 No Comments

Memory semiconductors store information, such as valuable memories and knowledge for some people. Sometimes, such data are critical to save lives of the people who suffer from memory disorders. SK hynix explored this idea, and created the “Happy GPS” device, a location-based roaming detector that protects people with memory disorders.

The SK hynix newsroom team met with the people related to the project to learn more about the outstanding achievements of the Happy GPS project over the past three years, and to show how the initiative has made society a happier and safer place to live in.

Image Download

Image Download

Under SK hynix’s philosophy of creating social value by solving social problems, the company has been striving to solve such issues that have arisen in welfare blind spots for a long time. Initially, the company began with supporting the residents in need among the local communities near its campuses. But with the accumulation of know-how and the kind supports from its employees, SK hynix started to engage in more diverse CSR efforts dealing with various social issues.

Hence the Happy GPS project began. As one of the leading memory semiconductor companies, SK hynix looked for new social contribution programs that utilize ICT technology. It learned of the seriousness of missing cases related to dementia-stricken senior citizens, with the information from the Korean National Police Agency (KNPA) in 2016. As a result, SK hynix decided to help early detection of missing persons with memory disorders when such incidents occur, and even help prevent missing cases in advance. . To achieve this, SK hynix developed a real-time location tracking roaming detector in 2016, and began to distribute the device in 2017.

The number of Happy GPS devices distributed in Korea over the past three years has reached 16,000. In 2017, when the device was introduced, 6,000 Happy GPS devices were sent to the elderly with dementia, and in 2018 an additional 4,000 units were provided. In 2019, the target extended to people with developmental disorders. Consequently, 3,000 Happy GPS devices were delivered to both the elderly with dementia and developmental disorder patients each, to make up a total of 6,000 units in the year.

Meanwhile, “Happiness Sharing Fund,” established in 2011 by SK hynix, has been used for the Happy GPS project. The fund is created to provide financial support to socially vulnerable groups via a “matching grant” method, where the company donates the same amount of money as donated by the company employees. So far, a total of KRW 1.4 billion was spent for the Happy GPS project.

Since the introduction of Happy GPS device, solving missing cases has become much easier. As soon as a missing case is recognized, the missing person’s location can be traced in real time so that they can be found before any additional accidents might occur. According to data provided by KNPA, a total of 207 reported missing cases have been solved thanks to Happy GPS.

Image Download

According to statistics from KNPA, 7,000 to 8,000 cases of missing disabled people occur every year, with the number keep increasing year over year. While the number stood at 7,724 in 2014, this figure increased to 8,881 in 2018. The number of missing disabled people not found after going missing has also increased dramatically from 6 in 2014 to 65 in 2018.

People with developmental disorders are more likely to get missing. Although guardians such as parents and teachers try their best to keep an eye on them at all times, missing incidents can happen in a split-second. Also, in the case of the patients whose mental development is below their physical growth level, their guardians cannot easily control their behavior.

The major problem is that compared to the people without disorder, the developmental disorder patients tend to lack the capability to avoid dangers in general. They might get in roads and railways without paying the appropriate attention, and are much more likely to be exposed to crimes such as kidnapping. If found early, they can return home safely; if not, they might suffer injuries, or, in the worst-case scenario, found deceased. Gum mi Kim, Head of Garam Psychological Counseling Center, said, “Since it is essential to locate the missing people in time to guarantee their safety, a GPS capable of tracing locations real time plays a huge role”.

Image Download

According to SK hynix and KNPA, the first six hours is the most important in finding a missing person safe and sound. The survival rate of missing people differs depending on the seasons, but it declines significantly after 6 hours on average. For this reason, the police’s response is focused on locating missing people as early as possible. This is emphasized when it comes to the socially disadvantaged, categorized as “code-zero group.” This includes the elderly with dementia and people with mental disorders, and when such people are reported gone missing, every police force in the region are mobilized for wide-spread searches.

In this regard, the role of Happy GPS has become critical as it has remarkably reduced the time for finding missing people. According to SK hynix and KNPA, the average time needed to locate missing people decreased from 12 hours to just 50 minutes after the introduction of Happy GPS, with the number of people needed for searches also declining since missing people’s locations can be quickly verified thanks to the reliable tracking device. This in turn frees up valuable police time and resources that could be spent to other cases in the region.

The Happy GPS device’s practical bracelet form is no coincidence. It was specifically designed to meet the objective of “locating missing people as soon as possible.” The elderly with dementia and developmental disorder patients often throw away their belongings and accessories when symptoms appear. That is why the GPS function on mobile phones becomes useless in missing people incidents; if the devices are designed in certain form which people can take off or remove easily, like a necklace, they might not be able to serve as a real time roaming detector solution. Therefore, by seeking out the opinions of experts from KNPA and numerous related agencies, SK hynix created the Happy GPS device as a bracelet that cannot be removed without the help of a guardian. It features only the absolutely necessary functions and an improved battery performance for long time usage, focusing on its core function – “real-time location tracking.” As a result, it provides a dependable aid for finding a missing person before it is too late.

Suk-hee Choi, section chief at KNPA, said, “Since the introduction of Happy GPS, we have been able to save lives of numerous people with the higher success rate and faster response time thanks to the device’s accurate tracking feature. I believe the value of this device is immeasurable. What was previously impossible due to budget restrictions is now possible thanks to our cooperation with SK hynix, with results both visible and inspiring. We hope more like-minded policies and efforts take root in the future to ensure a safer environment for the people who need it most.”

Image Download

SK hynix plans to provide 3,200 additional Happy GPS devices for individuals with dementia or developmental disabilities in 2020. The company also continues to reinforce the foundation for providing Happy GPS devices by strengthening its invaluable collaborations with KNPA and other leading agencies.

SK hynix is also carefully considering the expansion of its Happy GPS project target group. Since the company began the project without specifying any target group, it is exploring the idea of expanding the project to various groups that would benefit most from owning a Happy GPS tracker. In order to do this, SK hynix has opened up the possibilities for cooperation with leading organizations with a strong understanding of these specific groups.

Another important task is linking the project with other CSR projects. SK hynix is contemplating including neighbors in the welfare blind zone in the social safety system, by linking the project with other social contributors carried out by SK hynix such as “Silver Friend ,” a project providing AI speakers to help the elderly who lives alone.

In addition, the company is working to upgrade Happy GPS’s functionality and design. While the company first focused on improving its GPS-based location tracking function and battery sustainability, it now plans to add additional features such as waterproof function and improved durability to enhance the daily life convenience by including. The company also seeks to improve its design, making it look similar to the smart bands found today.

Ha commented, “With the Happy GPS project being an overwhelming success, the social interest for Happy GPS is increasing considerably. We will continue to expand the project by working even harder for the socially disadvantaged people who have often been disregarded within rapid social change, so that they can live a safer, happier life.”