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Using Technology to Find a Missing Person

According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, between 70,000 and 80,000 people are reported missing in Canada every year. Whether these disappearances are caused willingly or unwillingly, they leave concerned family, friends and coworkers in their wake. Police, government and often private investigators become involved in the search for missing persons, and with the development of technology, the search has become wider and easier.

As it has developed over the years, technology has become faster and smarter than humans. While police and PIs were once reliant upon physical methods of locating missing individuals, technology has opened up many other doors to trace someone who may or may not want to be found. Technology has created digital footprints, which are characterized as the trail left by individuals based on their online behaviour. This digital footprint allows them to be studied and traced based on habits, conversations, search history, software and application choices and general browsing.

Basic search tools that are available to the public include search engines and social media. Simply Googling someone is a good first step. The more information you know about the person, the better. Include this information (i.e. place of work, city of residence, notable achievements, etc.) in the search to narrow your results. This can also lead to a second easy and basic method of finding someone, which is their social media channels. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn accounts are a large part of someone’s digital footprint and can leave valuable bread crumbs.

Technology also opens doors to a wide variety of online databases, including police and public records, hospital records, insurance records, etc. It also allows a PI to easily contact individuals or businesses that may have more information on the missing person, opening up a vast network of individuals and methods of contacting them (i.e. email, instant messaging, messaging through social media, etc.)

Other people tracking technologies exist that measure someone’s location and how long they remain in said location. Such technology includes search mapping, radar and sonar. Image and facial recognition software also comes in handy.

If you are searching for a missing person and choose to recruit a private investigator to help you, it is important to provide them with as much detail on the missing person as possible. This will help the PI decide which method(s) of tracking is best, will open up more possibilities and will help them narrow their search.

It is important to note that there are still human and physical methods that private investigators use outside the realm of technology. This is because people are getting smarter about their social footprint. Effective techniques that do not involve technology include interviewing, tracking phone and bank records, especially recording locations of associates and spouses.

In all missing persons cases, contact local authorities first. But if the bread crumb trail runs cold, let us at Investigation Hotline show you how we can use technology to help you.