The Missing Children Society of Canada (MCSC), in partnership with Microsoft and Esri Canada, created the Child Search Network to help police services across Canada reach community members whose eyes, ears and voices are critical when searching for a missing child.
Based on national RCMP data, an average of 40,000 children are reported missing each year in Canada. About 62 per cent of missing youth cases were closed within 24 hours and 92 per cent were closed within a week, but about 500 remain missing after one year. The network aims to reduce this number. When a missing child is deemed high risk but does not meet the threshold of an Amber Alert, police would release information about the child and case to the public through the website, social media and the new smart-phone app called ‘Rescu’—specifically those in geographic proximity. People could then offer tips by clicking on the child’s name/picture.
The network has already seen success, aiding Calgary police locate two missing teenagers earlier this year. During the search, Superintendent Cliff O’Brien said the network yielded over 500,000 social engagements across all platforms and credits this to finding the girls.
The Canadian Association of Police Chiefs (CACP) officially endorsed the Child Search Network on Feb. 24 and is encouraging all departments to implement the technology in their communities.
We are proud to endorse the #ChildSearchNetwork. We urge all police services to implement this new tool as a standard practice in all high-risk missing children investigations in Canada. Thank you @MCSCanada, @microsoftcanada & @esricanada for making it available to us for free. pic.twitter.com/plT7gn4yjX
— CACP / ACCP (@CACP_ACCP) February 25, 2021
“As technology advances, so do opportunities for predators to reach defenceless victims, resulting in an increased number of missing child cases,” said Chief Bryan Larkin, CACP president. “We saw that this was assisting police and supporting youth in need, so all of us police leaders felt it is a great step in using technology and innovation to help us.”
Community outreach is key. To be most successful, the network requires Canadians to download the app. In an effort to get the ball rolling, all city employees in Calgary downloaded the app to their phones and put out a notice of motion to the public, encouraging people to download it as well.
“The more people who get the app, the better. Basically, the idea is to simplify communication with the public,” said O’Brien. “I think this is a very powerful tool that also delivers a powerful message to predators because they know they won’t have the time or anonymity they’d need to get away.”
Rescu is available on iOS and Android.
Print this page