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A Cape Town-based black empowerment company, Mobile Locate Africa, has launched a location-based service, ChildLocate, on the MTN network. The service allows users to locate their children via cellphone or the Web, anywhere in SA."ChildLocate assists parents to check on the whereabouts of their kids in a non-intrusive and secure manner," says Mobile Locate Africa director Ferhad Mahomed.

"Considering recent reports of missing children, some found raped or murdered, the ChildLocate service provides parents with peace of mind. They don't have to call 30 times a day trying to locate their children.

"ChildLocate also enables users to locate mobile phones from the Web interface anywhere in SA using the GSM network, providing security not only for their children but also keeping an eye on other family members."

To locate a child, subscribers can call a number and code, and will be sent an SMS stating where their child is.

He says security is a key concern and to prevent stalking problems, ChildLocate requires a child to grant permission for the information on his or her whereabouts to be sent. If the child does not recognise the locator's number, they can revoke permission.

"This is not only to ensure the child agrees and understands the benefits of ChildLocate, but that it is not possible for anyone to locate another person without obtaining prior permission," Mahomed says.

"The parent is automatically sent a message showing the telephone number of any new permission agreements set up between the child and another third-party, and they can at all times withdraw another user's permission.

"In a case where a child goes missing, the location of the child is displayed on a map with a radius indicating the position of the child. The location information is also displayed in a text window on the Web, or sent by SMS to your mobile phone indicating the location of the child in relation to a known landmark."

Mahomed says a monthly subscription costs R49.95 and allows users to register up to 10 mobile phones, with 20 inclusive requests and 15 text messages a month.

"Our report gives a reasonably accurate location with substantial amount of detail. The accuracy of the location is 150m to 500m in urban areas but obviously less in rural areas," he says.

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