Skip to main content

ChildRescue - Collective Awareness Platform for Missing Children Investigation and Rescue

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ChildRescue (ChildRescue - Collective Awareness Platform for Missing Children Investigation and Rescue)

Periodo di rendicontazione: 2019-07-01 al 2020-12-31

Each year, over 250,000 children slip through the net of child protection systems in Europe as they go missing, following a wide range of reasons, ranging from runaways (national / international), abduction by a third person, international parental abduction, and missing unaccompanied migrant/refugee minors, to generally lost, injured or otherwise missing children . A special case of children that often go missing are unaccompanied refugee minors, who are exposed in enormous risks and their disappearance is usually underreported.
Currently, missing children alerts patterned after the Amber Alert System have been implemented in many European countries (named either Amber or Child Alert), while more and more EU countries develop similar alert systems. The general idea of the Amber/Child Alert System is that, by broadcasting and distributing information about a missing child to the community, the public’s involvement can trigger critical feedback that would have otherwise been ignored, and which can prove critical in finding the missing child.
Despite the current efforts at country and European level, several key challenges remain open:
• Insufficient capture and diffusion of information
• Lack of a mechanism that makes use and merges all available sources of information
• Lack of location focused distribution of alerts
• Difficulty in cross-referencing and determining the status of children discovered or registered with authorities
• Lack of cross-border cooperation between care institutions, law enforcement agencies and networks for missing children when it comes to responding to disappearances of unaccompanied minor refugees.
In this context, ChildRescue aspires to effectively reduce the primary period between the moment a child is reported missing and the one when it is found, by increasing accuracy and timeliness of publicly available information and by accelerating location-based audience targeting of the mobile alerts for missing children based on evidence-based predictions.
ChildRescue aims to be a prominent tool for missing children investigations in Europe, complementing law enforcement, the 116 000 hotline, the Missing Children response organisations and Voluntary Organisations, including Red Cross communities in all European countries, while also offering a unique solution for cross-stakeholder collaboration and identification of missing and unaccompanied minors.
The objectives of ChildRescue project are divided into three levels, namely:
• The Scientific level, focusing on the scientific and research work to be done to deliver a rigorous and self-standing methodology for the missing children’s investigation
• The Technical level, focusing on the delivery of the ChildRescue platform, through the implementation of novel, self-standing components and their integration under a common platform, and
• The Societal level, focusing on the evaluation and validation of the solution, the spread of the excellence gained and the real-life sustainability, supporting the identification of missing children in practice.
During the project the ChildRescue Methodology was produced and updated, with TO-BE scenarios, stakeholders' requirements, technical requirements, user stories, relationships between stakeholders, use-case scenarios, and the description of the operations on personal data. Ethical aspects were addressed, a landscape analysis was produced. Research was performed on the Grassroots Collective Intelligence, developing the state-of-the-art research on the investigation of missing children through profiling, and on the domains of multi-source data analytics, the unaccompanied migrant minors behavioural and activity profiling, data analytics applications , the high-level data model, and the technical framework to handle personal data. These were reviewed and approved by the Ethics Advisory Board.
The project saw the development of the platform and mobile apps. Despite the aim set out by the DoA to produce a TRL 7 platform, ChildRescue was designed and developed ambitiously aiming at a TRL 9, to ease the operational adoption of the platform. The web platform was released, as well as the two mobile apps for Android and iOS for the general public and for Android for the volunteers, technical verification was performed, the ISO 25010 Product Quality Model was used to evaluate technical KPIs, and a separate, fully operational demo server was set up to allow organisations outside of the consortium to evaluate the platform.
An important development was the piloting operation of the platform and Apps by the piloting organisations that led to the adoption of ChildRescue in their day-to-day activities. In more detail, the two pilot phases were performed. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the field exercise was adapted and performed online. For these exercises, trial scenarios were tested on the first operational prototype environment, and then re-developed for a fully operational platform and Apps. Documentation was produced to guide the organisations on the use of the platform and the apps, training seminars took place, and KPIs were evaluated.
Crucially, the app was publicly launched in July 2020 in Greece and in August in Belgium, gaining widespread support and engagement by the public and media, despite the stay-at-home orders and the public's focus on the pandemic. Moreover, the platform and apps are being used, supported and improved outside the bounds of the project.
Lastly, networking, dissemination and exploitation swere, and especially during the final six months of the project, after the public app was launched. Extensive content was created, including professionally-built multilingual promotional videos, digital cards, web graphics, gifs and other visuals, a brochure, flyers and roll-up banners, blog posts, news, a dissemination manual, academic papers, while there was also regular social media activity, engagement with media platforms, TV and radio interviews, involvement and presentations in high profile public events, conferences, including the UNHCR Child Protection sub-Working Group (CPsWG), two Exploitation Workshops were organised, and the final Data Management Plan was prepared. The commitment and major effort put on dissemination and communication, as well as from the pilot partners using their own resources, in this period meant that the ChildRescue app, a product of a research project, was downloaded and installed over 18,000 times in just six months in Greece and Belgium, and this number is constantly rising.
Overall, the project was very successful, well beyond the initial technical expectations, it was warmly embraced by the organisations that piloted it, it had a response from the public well above what is expected from a research project, and it was developed by a consortium that was excited to be part of it, as much as it is excited to be part of its future.
• Updated and finalised Requirements
• Final ChildRescue Methodology
• Integrated of all state-of-the-art analytics algorithms
• Updated/Final version of the ChildRescue platform and the mobile application
• Realisation of the pilots
• Pilots evaluation
• Results assessment
• Impact assessment
• Drive, monitor and accelerate user acquisition
• Promoted and achieved a userbase in the tens of thousands
• Finalise and implement the plan for the exploitation of ChildRescue beyond the project's life-cycle
ChildRescue logo