Technology on smartphones is making a difference in finding lost children or loved ones.
In some cases, these apps are free.
Safety experts are praising the ability of some apps to get the community involved in finding missing people.
‘Lassy Project,’ for example, is an app that allows parents and guardians to create a profile for their child.
They can alert their “network” should they go missing. This network is a hand-selected group of trusted friends, family, and neighbors.
‘Life360’ is another app worth checking out. It uses GPS data to track family members real-time and checks them into specific locations, such as home or school.
The app ‘MamaBear’ boasts similar location-sharing capabilities, but also provides updates on a child’s most recent social media activity.
“That’s awesome, you’d always be able to know that if my kid is where they said they were, someone is looking at them right now,” Jennifer Meenges said.
Meenges is the mother of an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old. Both participate in extra-curricular activities, keeping all three of them busy.
“I wish I could know where they were every second of the day,” Meenges said.
These free smartphone apps are making this a reality, yet many parents aren’t aware.
911 dispatchers say these apps can be more effective than an Amber Alert—most provide more specific details when it comes to finding someone who’s missing.
“The more information you can give us, it will help us help you quicker,” Rayme Hetrick, a 911 dispatcher in Centre County said.
Back in February, a man was arrested after being accused of kidnapping his ex-girfriend.
The victim’s mother used an app on her smartphone to track her daughter.
She was found at a McDonald’s in Milesburg, 150 miles away from her home in the Poconos.
Aside from missing children, experts at Penn State say the technology can make a difference for under-served populations, such as the elderly.
“If you have someone in your family who is dealing with the onset of dementia, it would be wonderful to have some ability to trace where they are,” Patrick McDaniel a distinguished professor and cyber security expert said.
All three apps are available for iPhone and Android devices.