Chinese province deploys real-time GPS trackers to monitor workers

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Sanitation workers in China say they are being forced to wear GPS trackers in the latest report detailing the nation’s growing dystopia. According to a local news source, the trackers were issued in the form of wearable wristbands by the Nanjing West River Environmental Services in Jiangsu, which has slightly revised the policy following public backlash.

According to the South China Morning Post, the company began issuing ‘smart bracelets’ to sanitation workers last month. These trackers are reportedly fitted with GPS and used to monitor the workers at all times. The original version of the bracelet included voice prompts that would tell the employee to get back to work if they remained stationary for more than 20 minutes.

The sanitation company introduced the trackers as a way to increase worker productivity, reduce management costs, and boost overall efficiency. Public backlash against the devices prompted a slight reversal on the policy, however — though workers are still continuously monitored, the devices no longer issue voice prompts to get back to work.

A “command center” featuring a large display is used to monitor the real-time location and movements of all sanitation workers. An anonymous sanitation worker interviewed by the publication pointed out one problem with the mindless monitoring of movements — the workers are forced to keep walking even if there isn’t anything for them to do in that particular moment.

China has increasingly embraced various technologies to monitor its citizens and workers. The country has publicized a number of “programs” over the past year that include using cameras to monitor public housing residents, school uniforms with built-in trackers to monitor kids at all hours, and a “deadbeat debtors” app that encourages citizens to report “wasteful” purchases to government officials.

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