Technology Changes Search for Missing Kids
The disappearance of six-year-old Etan Patz in 1979 helped launch a missing children’s movement that placed pictures of missing kids on milk cartons.
Today police use Amber Alerts, which came to fruition in 1996 after nine-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted and killed from her hometown of Arlington, Texas.
In 2011 Amber Alerts came to Facebook. Currently there are 53 Amber Alert pages on the social site — one for each of the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Now a number of mobile apps are available for parents to track the location of their kids, provided their child carries a smartphone.
One popular app is ‘Family Tracker,’ which actually helped a mom from Atlanta, Georgia find her 14-year-old son earlier this year.
The app uses GPS to track your child’s location on a map. It also keeps a log of all the data collected by the phone for a two-week period, which could help police track the location of where a child was abducted.
“When somebody gets abducted, usually whoever does this throws the phone away or takes the battery out,” said Roberto Franceschetti of LogSat, the creators of the Family Tracker, in an interview with Reuters. “We were hoping that our app would at least provide information on where the person was abducted or where they had been in the past, that way the police would have a history or some clues as to who they may have been seeing.”
Other noteworthy apps include Life360 which is credited with helping families stay connected during last year’s tsunami in Japan.