MCSC rescu app offers new hope in search for missing children
A new web app that directly engages the public in the search for missing children has been unveiled by The Missing Children Society of Canada.
Among its functions, MCSC rescu uses SMS alerts about missing children targeted to the locations of people who have registered with the app.
MCSC rescu is also updated continually with information from police on missing children in Canada. All users can view active cases by region and submit tips on cases to police through the web app. They can also register and opt in to receive SMS text alerts on their smartphones specific to cases in their area that police want to highlight. Since MCSC rescu is a web app, no download is required. It is accessible via any browser and across desktop and mobile devices.
The app was developed by Toronto-based Esri Canada, a geographic information system (GIS) provider, for the Missing Children Society of Canada (MCSC), a Calgary-based non-profit organization that works with police across Canada in the search for missing children.
It’s the latest innovation in an evolution that has taken an organization that relied on posters 30 years ago, to one that employs the latest technology in the search for a missing child.
“Technology is often spoken of as a risk,” said Amanda Pick, CEO of the Missing Children Society of Canada. “But it can also be used to protect children and help police. With the MCSC rescu web app, we’re able to share information with the police and the public through easy-to-understand dynamic maps, and push alerts to people in specific locations, even down to a street,” she said. “This allows us to find children faster, but we need every single Canadian to help us.”
Thousands of children go missing in Canada every year, but fewer than one per cent of those cases are broadcast to the public through AMBER Alerts. While police remain on the frontline in the searches for missing children, having responded to 42,233 reports across Canada in 2018, members of the public increasingly play an important role in helping bring children to safety.
Judy Peterson, whose daughter Lindsey Nicholls went missing 26 years ago, told the news conference that at the initial time of her disappearance she went around her B.C. community with tape and posters in an effort to engage the public in the search.
Lindsey, who was 14 at the time she disappeared, has never been found, but Peterson believes MCSC rescu would have made a difference. She encouraged people to download the app and register for alerts.
“I truly believe that if this technology was available when Lindsey went missing, we would have known what happened.”
Two police departments in Alberta – Calgary Police Service and Tsuut’ina Nation Police Service – were the first to adopt the web app in their missing children investigations.
“Public safety is a shared responsibility,” said Supt.Cliff O’Brien, Calgary Police Service. “MCSC rescu is an excellent example of how all of us, whether you’re an individual or an organization, can work together towards a single objective: to find a missing child. I encourage everyone across Canada to use this technology and help bring our missing children back to safety.”
O’Brien encouraged Canadians across the country to download the web app and register to receive alerts.
“Every pair of eyes and ears in our community can be the difference between life and death for the missing child,” O’Brien said.
Steve Burton, Inspector with Tsuut’ina Nation Police told the news conference that there is a crisis with children in Indigenous communities and MCSC rescu is a welcome tool as it brings more people into the search for missing kids with police.
“Our society needs to take responsibility for our children and this is one piece of the puzzle,” Burton said. “This … will allow members of the community to communicate in real time and become involved when these children go missing. That’s one of the big important things with this app.”