In partnership with Google, Bearstech and European Consulting Services, France's Red Helmets Foundation has launched a global missing persons search engine, Missing.net. The goal is to provide an instant platform for those involved in a natural or humanitarian crisis and their family, friends and coworkers, to find each other.

Until now, Google's Crisis Response team provided Person Search sites on an ad hoc basis, including sites for the earthquake in Haiti and New Zealand, and the latest in Japan. Red Helmets hopes to make its comprehensive site an enduring, permanent global feature of rescue response.

A Comprehensive Platform for the Missing

The alpha version has launched around the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Although people have been leaping forward to use social media to find lost loved ones and companies and groups have lent a hand, a permanent, optimized site specifically devoted to missing persons recovery in crisis situations is missing. This tool is designed to provide that and to promote it to both governmental groups, non-governmental charity organizations and people at large.

Among the functions that are receiving a baptism by fire in the midst of the current crisis in Japan are the following.

  • Missing person profile with information including photo, civil status, last known
  • home address, physical description
  • Research a missing person by keyword or browsing by profile elements
  • Post pictures and videos.
  • Geographic localization of the victim on maps automatically integrated to the missing people's profile
  • Ability to bring feeds together around a disappearance
  • One-click broadcast of found person
  • Facebook and Twitter integration

The service has elements of a platform, a search engine and a social network, as Sarah Aizenman, Red Helmets' communications manager, told us.

"Missing.net is a social collaborative network where you can upload lots of content to help the research between the declaration (of a missing person) and finding them. We want definitely to allow to all the potential witness to bring their contributions to find a missing people. As an NGO, we identified the humanitarian needs and we understood that they wanted to use a common tool to share and exchange data easily and quickly. With Missing.net, I hope that we will fulfill their expectations."

Missing.net can be used in French, English, Chinese, Russian, Arabic and Spanish so far.

A History of Crisis Communications

Red Helmets, chaired by former French Secretary of State for Victims Rights, Nicole Guedj, has a history of crisis communications and of collaboration. They created Emergesat, a telecommunications container of telecommunications designed to enable rescue teams to communicate in crisis areas when the traditional communication network has been destroyed.

The container, developed in partnership with CNES and Thales Space, has been deployed with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees to refugee camps in Darfur and to Haiti after the earthquake.