- Over 500 sanitation workers in Nanjing have been asked to wear ‘smart’ watches
- The bracelet tracks their location in real time and records when they clock in
- An earlier version of the bracelet also sends out an alarm if they stopped moving
- The alarm function has been removed after the system sparked public outcry
Officials in east China are forcing its street cleaners to wear GPS-tracking bracelets in order to monitor idle workers.
More than 500 sanitation workers in Nanjing, Jiangsu province have been required to wear the smart bracelets, which would track their location in real time and send out an audio alert if the wearer stopped moving for more than 20 minutes.
The sanitation company removed the alarm feature of the watch after the news last week sparked a public outcry over Big Brother-style surveillance, Chinese media reported.
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A sanitation worker in Nanjing, east China’s Jiangsu province shows reporters the smart bracelet that is used to track his location while on duty
An earlier version of the bracelet sends out an audio alert if sanitation workers stopped moving for more than 20 minutes, sparking public over Big Brother-style surveillance
However, other functions via the bracelet remain, including location tracking and letting the workers clock in for work.
Information from the watch is transmitted to a command centre, which ensures workers stay in their designated work area and are not slacking off, according to a report first published by Jiangsu City Channel last Wednesday.
An unnamed street cleaner told reporters that an alert would be triggered from the bracelet if she stopped moving for more than 20 minutes.
‘It will shout “please continue working! Keep it up!”,’ the woman said. ‘There is a big screen somewhere that shows all our locations. If we still fail to move after the alarm goes off, our managers will come and find us.’
A worker said that he is forced to walk up and down the street even though it’s already clean
‘It will shout “please continue working!”,’ the worker said. ‘There is a big screen that shows our location. If we still fail to move after the alarm goes off, our managers will come and find them’
A clip of the command centre shows a large, wall-mounted screen with dozens of dots indicating the exact location of each sanitation worker in the city
Another worker complained that the wristband forces him to walk up and down the street even though it’s already clean.
A clip of the command centre shows a large, wall-mounted screen with dozens of dots indicating the exact location of each sanitation worker in the city.
Yang Haiping, an employee at the centre said that the smart bracelet programme aims to increase workers’ productivity, reduce management costs and allow total monitoring of its sanitation workers.
There is also an emergency button on the watch in case the worker is ever in danger.
The surveillance system, implemented in September, is only activated during work hours and will not infringe on the workers’ privacy, said Zhang Dongzhong, the company’s vice-president.
There is also an emergency button on the smart watch in case the worker is ever in danger
The system, implemented in September, only works during work hours and will not infringe on the workers’ privacy, according to Zhang Dongzhong, the company’s vice-president
He told Beijing Youth Daily that no one had been punished for information provided by the watches so far.
The report immediately caused a backlash on Chinese social media, with many net users questioning the practicality of the watches and offering their support to the cleaners.
‘As long as the streets are clean and the worker has done their job, I don’t think the constant monitoring is necessary,’ one person wrote on Chinese microblogging site Weibo.
‘It’s not easy being a sanitation worker, they are always overworked. This is just inhumane,’ another user said.
‘Why don’t you put a watch on our government officials? Send out an alert to them if they take a rest for more than 20 minutes?’ one person commented.