ReUnite, the app will use Amazon Web Services based on face recognition technology to match the photographs of missing children with a database to give result after face matching. By using facial recognition, this app will connect to government databases of missing children in order to find a potential match.
Thousands of children go missing in India every year. According to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, about 2, 50,000 children have been registered as missing from 2012 to 2017. Tracking those children and rescuing them has always been a challenging job for the government. According to a Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood) representative, every year around 44,000 children go missing in the country, of whom just 11,000 are rescued.
On June 29, Union Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu and Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi launched an app called ReUnite, in an attempt to track the missing and abandoned children in India. The app is a collaboration between the Bachpan Bachao Andolan, which is headed by Satyarthi, and information and technology firm Capgemini.
Missing children should not be considered as just figures as it’s a tragedy for the parents whose lives are thrown off the track after losing their loved ones, Satyarthi said. “Every eight minutes, a child goes missing and is forced into labour, abandoned on streets or trafficked. I am hopeful that this initiative will also add on to the efforts made by the government,” he added.
The idea for the app was conceived during an internal hackathon organised by Capgemini, says Ashwin Yardi, the chief operating officer at Capgemini. “After the tech challenge to create a pool of concept to address the problem of missing children in India was over, the winning team’s solution was taken forward to develop the app,” added Yardi.
How does the app work?
ReUnite will use Amazon Web Services based on face recognition technology to match the photographs of missing children with a database to give result after face matching. The app can be used by parents to report about their missing child and by observant citizens to report any susceptible children wandering on the street. By using facial recognition, this app will connect to government databases of missing children in order to find a potential match. In case of a match, ReUnite will inform the user and allow him/her to see the whereabouts of the child.
This app is multiuser and will allow parents and citizens to upload pictures of missing children, and provide detailed description like name, birthmark, address, report to the police station, search and identify missing kids. The app has even taken privacy issues into consideration. Therefore, to ensure the security aspect photos taken on the app will not be saved in the physical memory of the phone and will be deleted automatically once the user closes the app. The photos of missing children will exist in algorithmic equations only.
The app’s database will be updated largely by the end users who will have images of missing children and will upload the same onto the app. It is available for both Android and iOS users.
How is the government dealing with the problem?
The major reason for the increasing number of missing children in India is because of destitution. According to reports, the majority of children in India live in poverty due to which parents even sell their own children. Also, children are allowed to roam freely on the street that increases their chances of getting abducted. The Indian police lack adequate manpower and resources that are required for searching for the missing children. In fact, many cases for missing and abducted children go unreported in India.
In April 2018, nearly 3,000 missing children were traced by using facial recognition system (FRS) within four days by Delhi Police. The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), in an affidavit to the high court, said that the Delhi Police, on a trial basis, used the FRS on 45,000 children living in different children’s homes. Of them, 2,930 children could be recognised between April 6 and April 10.
Last year in June, the Eastern Railway’s Railway Protection Force (RPF) rescued 650 children from various stations and trains and reunited 251 of them with their parents. The Railways Ministry has also launched a special campaign called Operation Muskaan-II, to rescue missing children and succeeded in getting back 71 children, including three trafficked children.