The Missing Children Society of Canada (MCSC), Microsoft and Esri Canada have developed the Child Search Network, a national system designed to enhance Canada’s national strategy for missing children.

“Microsoft is proud of our ongoing work with the Missing Children Society of Canada. This partnership demonstrates the tremendous potential of technology to help tackle some of our biggest challenges – using Microsoft Azure and AI tools will help MCSC reach more people faster, to help bring missing children home. Protecting our children is our most important job as parents and as Canadians and we are committed to helping innovative organizations like MCSC achieve their goals,” said Kevin Peesker, president of Microsoft Canada, in a Feb. 25 news release.

A Canadian-made tool developed in consultation with, and pilot tested by, police services, Child Search Network provides police services with a quick way to share information and collaborate with others, as well as with the general public, to find missing children faster and reunite them with their families. Police can put out information on a missing child via a website and smart-phone app.

Members of the public can then offer tips by downloading the MCSC rescue app available on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store to register to receive alerts and share any information they may have regarding a missing child or youth.

“Today is a critical milestone that has been over a decade in the making. The Child Search Network represents a digital transformation of a search tool and public awareness platform designed to leverage technology to support police, involve the general public, and protect children across Canada,” Amanda Pick, chief executive officer, Missing Children’s Society of Canada, noted in the release.

Over 40,000 children go missing, run away or are abducted in Canada each year, but fewer than one per cent of those cases are broadcast to the public through AMBER Alerts, according to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP). Many missing children cases cross-provincial, territorial and even international borders.

“Esri Canada is honoured to be supporting the Child Search Network in determining where Canada’s missing children and youth might be, so we can help bring them back to where they should be, home with their family,” said Alex Miller, president, Esri Canada.

CACP yesterday announced it has officially endorsed the technology and says it will help them meet the “gap of response” for high-risk missing children cases that do not meet the strict criteria for the AMBER Alert.

The Child Search Network tool is available to police services across Canada free of charge. CACP is urging all police services to adopt and implement the Child Search Network as a standard practice in all high-risk missing children investigations in Canada.

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