When someone is missing, it can be time consuming to obtain a picture and get it out to the news media and the public. Sometimes several hours go by before an alert is issued. Titan Lynx Corp. designed the StreetLynx Network to change that. StreetLynx is based on specific geographic information and will let thousands of people, including law enforcement, receive missing person alerts on their cell phones almost immediately. (Law enforcement also will be able to receive alerts on their MDTs.) The network was introduced this year by Titan Lynx Corp. and the Fraternal Order of Police.
Thanks to the support of the FOP, KnightLine Apparel and other corporate sponsors, there is no cost for departments to use StreetLynx. Titan Lynx doesn't charge for sending alerts, nor is there a charge to register to receive alerts. However, messaging fees from wireless carriers may apply.
"As law enforcement officials, we can take a photo and get that photo out to the public in minutes so that the ability to recover a child is greatly enhanced," says Chuck Canterbury, president of the National Fraternal Order of Police. "The biggest enemy of a missing child is time; a swift response is crucial and critical to law enforcement being able to recover [missing] children."
The StreetLynx Network is not intended to replace the U.S. Department of Justice-administered AMBER Alert program, which is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies, media outlets and transportation agencies to activate an urgent bulletin in serious child abduction cases. Since the program's 1997 inception, AMBER Alerts have been credited with the successful recovery of more than 400 children.
When Titan Lynx CEO Michael Rubinic started developing StreetLynx, law enforcement had limited options if a child was reported missing. Issuing an AMBER Alert is the most effective way to get the word out to the public, he says, however, there are strict criteria that must be met before the alert can be released.
In creating the StreetLynx service, Rubinic wanted to offer law enforcement another option. In 2007, he points out that nearly 800,000 children were reported missing, according to the Department of Justice; but only about 225 AMBER Alerts were issued that same year. Because AMBER Alerts are far-reaching public alerts, he says it makes sense that the criteria includes reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred. However, StreetLynx will utilize a different set of criteria. Alerts from StreetLynx will be initiated at the discretion of local law enforcement through the StreetLynx Network, available from Titan Lynx.
At this time, alerts are not being issued, as the database of participating agencies is in development. Alerts to law enforcement are expected to start in early 2010. Currently the StreetLynx Network project is in Phase 2, efforts for messages broadcast to the general public remain ongoing. Titan Lynx and the FOP are working together to promote the PhotoAlert Drive that allows for the gathering of photos and individual profiles by parents and guardians so that they can be accessed for quick dissemination. The photos and profiles will be stored on a portable flash drive by parents or guardians so that the information remains confidential until it is needed for distribution via text message, picture message or e-mail in an emergency.
In an emergency, if those who signed up to receive alerts have a cell phone that cannot receive picture messages, it will still receive the text message containing the profile. If a phone cannot receive text messages but can receive e-mails, the e-mails will include the picture. Due to steady advancements in technology, Rubinic anticipates all cell phones soon will include picture messaging as a standard feature. Photographs and profile information of missing persons will also be posted on the StreetLynx Web site.