A Different Approach to Missing Persons Cases

Over the years, the way we’ve communicated missing person cases has evolved from flyers on telephone poles and pictures on the sides of milk cartons to online forums and social media.   Technology continues to drive how we relay information to the masses at an unprecedented rate.  While incredible strides have been made in the way missing person cases are delivered, there’s still an opportunity to reach a broader audience with even more relevant content.

As of today, social media is the primary way we share cases with the public – whether within a Facebook news feed or a retweet to the masses.  Online crime community forums continue to have a solid base of core users who openly discuss active cases and pick up on minute clues –  even tidbits of information initially overlooked by law enforcement.  I’m sure many of us have experienced being startled by an Amber Alert text message sent to our cell phones at an unexpected time.  Lastly, traditional cable news continues to break cases and provide ongoing updates.

Although these methods are superior to that of the past, they’re not without drawbacks.  For one, the volume of information is overwhelming and often not pertinent to every single audience member.  You could peruse the internet all day and not run out of current missing person cases to investigate.  While all cases are of importance, it makes sense to get the stories in the hands of people who can have the biggest impact.

In a future state, it would make more sense to target specific audiences in some instances.  Imagine receiving posts and alerts relevant to your location and history.  You would always want to see cases related to where you’re currently located – whether that’s your current city or in an entirely different area you’re visiting.  Perhaps you’ve moved over the years but still stay in contact with people from your prior whereabouts.  You’ve accumulated a circle of acquaintances extending far beyond your current location but in which you can influence with vital information.  Cases could take priority in your news feed not only by geographic history but also by age, vulnerability, and criticality.

The benefits of this approach would be a lower volume of higher quality articles, much more relevant to your particular situation.  By sharing this content with people from your past and present who have a similar relation to the areas in focus, more eyeballs in the immediate area could be put on the case at hand.  Ultimately, this can translate to valuable tips and faster resolution time. 

In summary, the ways we disseminate information regarding missing person cases has drastically changed over time.  Technology has been extremely beneficial but we’re beyond the point of information overload.  Continued refinements in our approach using existing technology will lead to improved results and additional saved lives.

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