A new website from the Missing Children Society of Canada, displayed on a computer in Toronto on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel

New web tool aims to enlist Canadians to help find missing kids

Website shows all active missing-children cases by geographic region

Thousands of children are reported missing across the country each year, but only a handful of Amber Alerts are issued, potentially leaving large numbers of people who might be able to help find them in the dark.

Now, a new website that aims to reach far more people than is currently the case — especially those who might be close to where the child went missing — is launching on Tuesday.

“It’s the real-time opportunity for Canadians to see in one network all of the missing children cases and specifically the ones that they can help with in their area,” said Amanda Pick, CEO of the non-profit Missing Children’s Society of Canada. “The more Canadians that become involved in this, the higher the ability we have to protect a child and find a child when they go missing.”

Based on information provided by police, the society’s Rescu website allows users to view all active cases by geographic region. Names, photographs and other relevant data about a missing child is available at the click of a mouse. Users who might have useful information can provide tips by clicking on the name or picture of the child.

The new web application also allows users to register to receive text alerts on their cellphones specific to cases in their area. The faster a child is found, the more likely they can be returned unharmed to safety, data indicate.

RCMP data indicate more than 42,000 children were reported missing last year — the vast majority are found safe — but police activated fewer than 10 Amber Alerts due to the high threshold of urgency required to do so.

Despite their infrequency, late-night Amber Alerts via cellphones have sparked a backlash among some recipients. The Rescu system allows alerts to be narrowcast only to people who have signed up. Depending on circumstances, alerts can be sent to a wider area.

READ MORE: Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

“This is a volunteer opportunity,” Pick said from Calgary. “You can enable a push notification when it makes sense for you.”

Only cases police deem pressing are expected to become alert material, the society said. As a result, those who sign up won’t be bombarded by alerts, or receive both Amber Alerts and Rescu texts. There’s no charge to users, who won’t be tracked. Tipsters can stay anonymous or provide names and email addresses if they want.

The website, accessible via any computer of smartphone browser without any downloads at https://rescu.mcsc.ca, is powered by cutting-edge “hub” technology from Toronto-based Esri Canada that allows for the management and dissemination of data.

Alex Miller, the company’s president, said he expected police and social-service workers involved with missing children will also use the system.

“They currently don’t have a way to easily share this information,” Miller said. “(But) if you provide the tools, people will come together.”

Both the Calgary Police Service and Tsuut’ina Nation Police Service are first to adopt the web app, which can be continually updated with new information, for their missing children investigations.

Pick said the hope is for widespread uptake among Canadians.

“It only takes one person,” Pick said. “(But) the more Canadians that become involved in this, the higher the ability we have to protect a child and find a child when they go missing.”

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

CELEBRATING 125: District of Kent Council revisits 1895

Reenactment kicks off year-long festivities

TRAFFIC: Roadwork, stalled semi causing major delays on Highway 1 in Langley

Westbound commuters should try the Fraser Highway or 56th Ave

VIDEO: District of Kent reenacts 1895 meeting

Event kicks off year-long celebration of 125 years as district

Hope-raised NHL official among BC Hockey Hall of Fame inductees

Jay Sharrers officiated 1,419 regular NHL games, plus Stanley Cup finals and Olympics

Sasquatch Mountain Aussie Day celebration raises $800

Proceeds of bikini runs, toonie tosses and more go to wildfire victims

Feds preparing plane to fly Canadians out of Wuhan, once China gives OK

160 Canadians have asked for help to leave province at centre of coronavirus outbreak

John Horgan calls for end to ‘high-grading’ B.C. forests

Premier speaks to resource industry forum in Prince George

PHOTOS: Truck outside Victoria gets partially stuck in sinkhole

Municipal crews have since repaired water main and patched up hole

Police search north of Williams Lake prompts warning to residents to stay inside

Officers also warn drivers near Lynes Creek Road not to pick up pedestrians

60% of Canadian workers would take a pay cut for better mental health support: survey

Survey found 77% of workers would leave for better wellness initiatives

Runaway rail car reported on same B.C. train line as fatal 2019 derailment

CP Rail confirmed the incident happened on Jan. 14.

Fraser Valley homeless advocate killed by RCMP leaves behind complicated legacy

Barry Shantz was shot by Lytton police officers after six-hour standoff on Jan. 13

Body found in vehicle at bottom of Mission ravine

Deceased male appears to be the lone occupant of the vehicle, discovered on Dewdney Trunk Road

Southern resident orca L41 considered missing and feared dead

The orca was last spotted in August 2019 when photographed in western Strait of Juan de Fuca

Most Read