I am feeling deeply ashamed.
Today, my second day here, I spent no time at the border crossing. I carried nothing. I smiled at no one. I added nothing to humanity.
Instead, today was a series of experiments. I wanted to moved forward on the Apple Airtags concept: attach an Airtag to anyone and you can ensure they get to their destination safely. I went to different technology shops. I gathered materials to print and laminate pouches which could hold these Airtags, as well as instructions. I experimented with different Apple ID setups…
It was about eight hours into this day that I remembered a fact that I had been subconsciously suppressing for a while. Recently, Apple made a slew of updates to these Airtags to counter stalking. These same updates make their use in this case impossible. Now, when an Airtag is distant from its attached device for more than a few hours, it makes a beeping noise. If it is going at a constant rate alongside another iPhone user, it notifies them, and even lets that user make the Airtag ring. Imagine a predator a few seats away from an unaccompanied child on a train — this method would only help them choose a victim. The speakers can be removed with some technical surgery, but the last straw was the fact that any iPhone user with a newer model could precisely locate the Airtag to a matter of inches. That won’t do.
I was devastated. I had spent so much time on this, here on my second day. I could have done so much more. I am a living, breathing creature, with strength and a mind, and I had just spent half my time here on a wild goose chase.
It was then, about half an hour into my wallowing, that I had an epiphany. If Airtags aren’t the way to go, then how about other models? There are other models, but none have nearly the reach and reliability of Airtags. Couldn’t phones themselves be the trackers? That’s… a very good point. But will these refugees have cell phones? “The latest value from 2020 is 129.34 cell phone subscribers per 100 people.” … “66% of Ukrainians in 2019” had smartphones. Ah. But what about those who don’t have one? How much is it just to give someone a basic phone? There are models for around US$50. It would’ve cost around $45 per equipped Airtag if we went that route.
Here I have the beginning of my answer. I has something to do with using the tools that already exist — the phones that are in people’s hands — and giving them a direct and constant link to their families back home and already across the border.
Maybe it’s something people already do? I will investigate.
For the remaining hours tonight, I will finish all my obligations in America, and prepare to spend 12 hours tomorrow serving on the walkway, and perhaps even supplying the Ukrainian side of the border.