How Technology Is Aiding The Search For Missing People

A 14-year old boy has gone missing at the River Mersey at Crosby beach, Sky News reports. He was swimming with friends when he was separated from the group close by the radar tower off Crosby beach, as noted by police, and there has been no trace of him since.

Merseyside Police requests that people avoid the area while emergency services; the coastguard and North West Ambulance Service, continue the search mission to find the missing boy.

It’s heartbreaking when someone goes missing, and the families of these people tragically affected with no real closure. However, all hope is not lost – advancing technology is majorly helping search and rescue (SAR) teams find and rescue the missing.


How Is Tech Helping Search And Rescue?


New technology is making it easier than ever before to help track and find missing people.

The widespread use of mobile phones and mass surveillance methods enable the state to effortlessly monitor and track people, and new technology has emerged to help process and analyse the large amounts of data which may be necessary to successfully recover the missing.

Let’s get into the technology helping SAR teams rescue the missing:


Search And Rescue Drones


The power and agility of drones have quickly earned it an essential spot in SAR team’s arsenal. Statistics from DJI, an international drone and imaging tech manufacturer, indicate that drones have directly helped rescue nearly 1000 missing people across the globe.

SAR teams make use of drones to locate people more quickly, and it minimises the risk that is often associated with broad search and rescue mission. Thermal imaging and zoom footage also helps detect missing people the naked eye would have missed.


Artificial Intelligence And Augmented Reality


Artificial intelligence (AI) is improving how search and rescue missions are conducted. An example of its application is that it can help interpret emergency calls that are often poor quality and difficult to hear, enabling emergency response teams to act quickly and make better informed decisions.

AI is also particularly useful when combined with augmented reality (AR) technology. It can be built into equipment to help responder with accurate real-time data, and can help them better navigate potentially dangerous or complex terrains.


Wide-Area Motion Imagery (WAMI) Systems


Wide-Area Motion Imagery (WAMI) systems were usually used on the battlefield to locate the enemy. Today, this technology is used in search and rescue missions as it combines advanced sensors, cameras and information processors into a single unit, and detects every individual within an area.

WAMI systems are especially useful when a search and rescue mission covers a large area, as this airborne data gathering system can detect movement throughout the day and night, and provides insights as optical imagery.


Social Media And Apps


Social media has drastically changed how search and rescue missions are conducted. Social media can help spread awareness of missing people, encouraging people to report potential sightings and to be on the lookout for the missing.

Missing people can also use social media as a tool to post their whereabouts so that SAR teams can see the post and reach them. Apps have also been created to accurately map the locations these missing people post, pointing SAR teams in the right direction.


Rescue Robots


Rescue robots are often the difference between life and death. SAR teams are often limited in their ability to rescue people from complex, dangerous terrains – rescue robots are developed to help SAR professionals detect, reach, and rescue missing persons who they would otherwise not have access to.

There are a few different types of rescue robots, equipped to help rescue teams tread in circumstances that would have seemed hopeless:


Water Rescue Robots

Water rescue robots help search and rescue teams navigate the waters with better accuracy and more quickly than police scuba divers would be able to.

These aquatic robots help rescue professionals cover larger areas of water with less risk, can tread over thin ice to recover people missing in icy slopes, and can help load people for a safe return to the shore.


Search And Rescue Robots

Search and rescue robots are capable of loading heavy parcels, delivering supplies, locating hard-to-find targets and navigating extreme terrains.

These robots also send invaluable information to emergency response providers, helping them locate missing people and retrieve missing people and help those in need.


Aerial Rescue Robots

Drones can be spotted doing everything from cocktail serving to grocery delivery to geopolitical escalation. They’re also near the heart of most airborne search-and-rescue and disaster prevention efforts.

Whether flying solo or tethering to other devices, drones and unmanned autonomous vehicles (UAVs) tend to share a few common characteristics: laser and/or radar scanners for navigation, video cameras to record and broadcast details back to remote crews and thermal imaging to help spot survivors.


Earthquake And Fire Robots

Roboticists have created vine- and snake-like robots to search through otherwise hopeless aftermaths of earthquakes and fires. These robots stably move into small openings and they can detect human presence with infrared technology.

Firefighting robots are also widespread, with capabilities such as blasting millions of gallons of water to put out flames.

We trust the Merseyside Police and emergency response team will return the 14-year old boy to safety. As technology continues to advance, innovation acts as a beacon of hope for those stranded as well as their families.

Technology such as robotics, drones, artificial intelligence and augmented reality, WAMI systems and social media serve as invaluable tools for search and rescue professionals.