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HSC Syllabus outcomes
Refugee tagging

Information systems
Identification and tracking system
Refugee background
Reactions to tagging
Take it further

An AVID chip reader for scanning identity microchips.  Powerhouse Museum collection.
An AVID chip reader for scanning identity microchips. Powerhouse Museum collection.

In 1994 immigration officials from the United States government implemented a system known as deployable mass population identification and tracking system (DMPITS). It was introduced in an effort to facilitate the processing of thousands of refugees from Cuba and Haiti.

The refugees were required to wear a wristband, each containing a microchip. The microchips could be scanned to uniquely identify a particular refugee and matched to other information held about that person. The United States believed this was the most effective way to manage the number of people attempting to enter the United States, however some refugees were concerned about the nature of the process.

The story of the Cuban and Haitian refugees will be used to provide a focus for the examination of a number of concepts in the Stage 6 syllabus, Information Processes and Technology, such as:

  • data, information and systems
  • the interactive nature of effective information-based systems
  • available and emerging information technologies
  • the social and ethical issues associated with the use of information technology and information systems, such as equity and access, privacy and freedom of information. (BOS, 1999: 6)

In addition the case study has relevance for those studying Design and Technology and Software Design and Development.

Information systems are management or control systems. They can manage a machine, organise processes, such as financial transactions or maintenance schedules. However, they are also used to manage social processes, where much of the information in the system represents people, such as the electoral roll.

Within a society there is a tension between the need to effectively manage the society and the right of an individual to their privacy. At any given time a balance may be established, but new technologies can upset the balance.

Department of Education and Training
Case studies developed by the Professional Support and Curriculum Directorate and supported by the Multicultural Programs Unit of the NSW Department of Education and Training in partnership with the Powerhouse Museum
Powerhouse Museum