During his keynote speech Wednesday at The Cable Show, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan praised efforts to increase the use of technology and online tools in the classroom, and he called on the cable industry to expand access to educational content and broadband service.
He also made a “personal plea” for cable to lead the way in the effort to keep students safe, “both online, and in their streets and neighborhoods.”
Three floors below, on the show’s exhibit floor, Esri and uKnow.com were showcasing technology that would do just that.
Esri has partnered with the parental-intelligence provider uKnow.com on uKnowLocate, a service that combines social-network data and smartphone GPS data to allow parents to keep track of their children’s location. It also offers a host of features, including geofencing, mobile alerts and scheduled check-ins. UKnowLocate, set to be officially announced Monday, will be integrated into the consumer-facing uKnowKids product, as well as in uKnow.com’s white-label systems.
Tim Woda, senior vice president of strategic growth and co-founder at uKnow.com, says that the technology revolution has made almost everything easier — except parenting. With sharing pictures and information on an array of networks easier than ever, and mobile devices being adopted by younger and younger children, parents’ ability to keep an eye on their children is significantly diminished compared with the era when families shared a single landline phone.
UKnowLocate and the other services offered by uKnow.com are aimed at reversing the trend of parents being out of the feedback loop when it comes to the lessons they teach their children.
“We want to make parenting only as difficult as it used to be,” Woda says.
Esri’s ArcGIS Geotrigger service powers uKnowLocate’s geofencing feature. It gives parents the opportunity to create a virtual fence around areas of interest on a map — a school, a library, a child’s friend’s house. Parents can then set up customized notifications based on certain triggers; for example, a parent could ask to receive a text-message alert if a child leaves school before 2 p.m. Geotrigger’s “adaptive tracking mode” also helps reduce battery-life consumption, a common problem with location-based software.
Esri and uKnow.com were visiting The Cable Show this week because as cable companies hear calls to keep children safe, they’re also looking at the home-security and home-automation segment as a new source of revenue. Woda says his company can help cable fulfill both of those goals, by making the always-on broadband world safer for children, and by boosting revenue with a subscription-based, white-label uKnow product.
Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen, during a Wednesday panel, said cable has a “unique role to play” in education and safety. With uKnow.com and uKnowLocate, they have a unique tool at their disposal.