A few weeks ago while my family and I were enjoying an afternoon on the beach, we saw a man frantically running up and down the sand screaming a boy's name over and over. The scene was right out of a movie – the sound of the sand and surf were too loud for anyone to actually understand what he was saying, people watched in curiosity as he ran through the crowds... but no one stood up or stopped to ask him what he needed. We thought it looked like he lost something, but we weren't sure what… Until we saw a child walk over the sand dune towards him - and the father bolted to him, scooped him up and hugged him tight. It was obvious that the boy had been lost – if only for a few moments.
If you, too, have ever had that moment of turning around while in a public place and not knowing where your child is, you have a taste of what it's like to lose a child. Hopefully for most of us, the panic lasts no longer than a moment or two as we quickly realize the child was just hiding around a corner or innocently wandered off out of naïve curiosity. But for some less fortunate, a missing child becomes a lifelong story of heartache, wonder and fearing the worst.
Today, a new app was launched that aims to help solve missing child cases quickly and accurately. Through crowdsourcing and leveraging the community around us, LostKidz, an emergency mobile alert system, aims to help locate a child gone missing via immediate notification to other users of the application. Parents download the app for free and fill in details - the information is for use only in an emergency situation - and when a child is lost, an alert is sent out with details such as the vicinity in which the child was lost, the timeframe, what the child was wearing, etc. The app continues to send alerts – which cover a wider radius as more time passes – until the child is found and the alert is no longer needed.
Obviously, the premise is that the more app users, the better the results. We can only be as successful as the community who uses the app. By having friends, family and neighbors download the app, an instant community of help is built that can immediately activate in the event that your child ever goes missing. More missing child cases than not involve someone who knew the child (only 25% of abducted children are taken by strangers, according to KidsHealth.org) or who was seen in the area – so it makes sense that an immediate activation system that reaches anyone with a smartphone can be more helpful than traditional methods of communication.
The LostKidz app is free to download and receive alerts, and $0.99 for an annual subscription to send alerts. Please check it out, encourage those you know to download it and hopefully, none of us will ever have to pay the $0.99. Of course, you're probably wondering about security, how predators might try to use the app and more – here's a link to those and other FAQs from the company, and a great video over at Mashable that further explains the benefits.
* Full disclosure, I sit on the Board of Advisors for LostKidz – because as a mother of two wonderful boys, I am more than happy to support and promote anything that helps keep our children safer.