At-Risk Populations Wary of Technology

Wearables have become a new fitness trend as of late. We all either have or have heard of neat little trackers, that we can attach to our arms or legs, which can tell us how many steps we have taken during a day, or if we sleep well at night. What many do not know is that wearables can track other aspects of health as well.

Recently, there has been a surge in technology to help underserved populations. For example, Sarnia is a city known for its air pollution. Breathing in air pollution leads to a number of respiratory and other health problems. Of course, the people that are most often subjected to this polluted air are those with a lower income. To respond to such problems, engineers have invented devices to help gather health data in such areas, although they are still working on making these devices affordable. The wearables are meant to take in data about the amount of pollutants and pesticides inhaled over the course of each day.

The devices are not only meant to track pollution, however, there are also ones that exist to track justice. Recording devices have been fashioned for young people to carry around to track how they are being treated. This is pertinent, especially for young people of color, because it teaches its owners about their rights and how they should be treated by authority.

So, there is now technology that further addresses health initiatives and also tracks the justice system in different institutions. What is the catch?

The issue is that at-risk communities do not feel comfortable carrying around such technology. Even cell phones are distrusted by many, such as low-income undocumented immigrants who are terrified of being discovered. Many farm workers, who are most at risk to breathe in pesticides, are undocumented and do not trust wearable technology, for example.

Aside from undocumented immigrants, there is a general mistrust of authority within lower-income communities. They have been mistreated by the ‘system’ and do not want to wear anything that could allow the government to track them even further. People want their privacy and will not sacrifice for a device that could potentially help their health.

The answer to the problem here is still being investigated. Collective health is a step in the right direction, but some real change needs to happen to these lower-income communities for them to even think about trusting authority again.

For more information on wearable health and justice technology, read this Forbes article.

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