Although StreetLynx will be able to notify entire regions, Rubinic says it is designed to identify a specific area by creating a targeted zone based on the last known location of the missing person.
For example, if a toddler has just wandered off, likely there's no need to send an alert out 90 miles. An alert only needs to be sent out at two, three or five miles maximum. But if a teenager who habitually runs away is missing, it may be necessary to send an alert out 90 miles. If abduction is suspected, an alert will be sent out as far as needed. Generally the rule is for every minute a child is missing, the alert will be sent out another mile.
Law enforcement StreetLynx recipients receive alerts based on their police department's address. Others receive alerts based on their home address.
Rubinic gives an example of what would happen if a child were reported missing in Anytown, Anystate. There are two ways the StreetLynx Network will work: If a parent or guardian possesses a PhotoAlert Drive, the police department could access the child's photograph and profile information, which includes relevant biographical information such as name, height, weight, age, etc., and where he or she was last seen. Immediately a broadcast message is sent to law enforcement officers in the area. In the future, the general public would receive the same message in the city and surrounding communities.
If a parent or guardian does not possess a PhotoAlert Drive, he or she will first need to locate a photograph and create a profile. The information can then be loaded into the StreetLynx Network before distribution.
"Police are in the business of getting alerts and keeping their eyes open for missing persons. The danger of over-using an alert system is that the public will begin to ignore them and they will become worthless," Rubinic says. "But you can send multiple PhotoAlerts because you're only including a very specific geographic area in your alert."
How it works
No special hardware or software is required to use StreetLynx. Connections will be made via the Internet through secure socket layering. Communications are encrypted.
To issue alerts, agencies must subscribe to StreetLynx, which includes the National PhotoAlert Network (an open network) as well as a closed network for law enforcement, to share digital images and identifying information about persons of interest or suspects. An agency would have the capability of sending photos (a mugshot, surveillance image or sketch) to whomever is on the closed law enforcement network. StreetLynx will send a message that needs to be communicated to all officers immediately. If an image must be sent from StreetLynx to the public, StreetLynx can be linked to the National PhotoAlert Network to make this happen.
To issue an alert, law enforcement agencies will need a user ID and password to log in, and can access the network from any computer connected to the Internet. If a child is reported missing, the agency uploads a photograph from a PhotoAlert Drive or obtains one from a parent or guardian.
StreetLynx then walks users through the entire distribution process: asking to whom (law enforcement or the public) the alert should be distributed, how far and so forth. (When Rubinic test-marketed the data entry function, he says officers were able to learn how to use the Windows-based program in less than 15 minutes.)
The issuing agency determines how far the missing person or person of interest may have traveled and enters the distance in miles. An alert with a picture and relevant information is then created and sent to all law enforcement agencies and registered recipients within that zone. When a child is successfully recovered, a message is sent informing the alert recipients and is also posted on the StreetLynx Web site. There is no limit to the number of alerts an agency can issue.