FAIRMONT, W.Va., Feb. 2, 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – A pilot biometrics program called AmberView(SM) designed to aid in the recovery of missing children has been unveiled by the West Virginia High Technology Consortium (WVHTC) Foundation.
AmberView, a coordinated pilot program in West Virginia designed to work in collaboration with state and national Amber Alert programs, was demonstrated today as a program that quickly disseminates three-dimensional (3-D) images of missing children through a web-based distribution system within minutes of a reported child abduction. The system showed the ability to “mass broadcast” a digital, 3-D facial image of a missing child to law enforcement officials, media organizations, the private sector and other sources.
“AmberView is a program that applies an advanced technology like biometrics to the very real and tragic problem of child abduction,” said WVHTC Foundation President and CEO James L. Estep. “We are confident this program can be applied statewide, nationally and even globally because we all know that the crime of child abduction knows no borders.”
AmberView Program Manager Robert Chico explained that the
WVHTC Foundation provided information to students, parents
and parent-teacher organizations seeking parental approval
for student volunteers for the pilot program. Following the parental approval process, high resolution, 3-D digital images were recorded of volunteer students in three West Virginia counties. The 3-D format allows the image to be enlarged and viewed from various angles, making positive identification easier. All images have been stored on a secure server located at the WVHTC Foundation and maintained in a secure database.
“Upon receiving an authorized Amber Alert, that childís high resolution, 3-D image is immediately posted on the AmberView missing children web site and distributed via a web-based broadcast system to law enforcement, media outlets and private sector sources in a 200-mile radius of the childís hometown or area of abduction,” said Chico. “Within minutes of notification of a child abduction, thousands of people will be on the alert to help find or identify the missing child. This is a highly emotional program and we are very motivated to deliver this biometric technology to assist in returning missing children to the safety of their families.”
WVHTC Foundation officials said that AmberView goes far
beyond the usefulness of fingerprinting, which has been used primarily to identify missing children after they are recovered. The 3-D biometric facial image that is broadcast to law enforcement, media and private sector officials in the early critical hours following an abduction may be rotated on a computer to view a variety of facial angles.
Therefore, the facial image provides much more information
than a simple description, photo or fax of a photo and,
unlike fingerprinting programs, is aimed more at the safe return of the child than identifying the child after recovery.
A study sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Justice shows
that the first three hours following a child abduction are
the most critical. The study shows that 74 percent of the children who were abducted and later found murdered were killed within three hours of their abduction. The program is funded through a federal allocation of $494,739 secured by Congressman Alan B. Mollohan through the U.S. Department of Justice.
“We have had the support and cooperation of the law
enforcement and education communities in West Virginia from
the start, and the feedback and active participation we have received from those groups has proved to be invaluable,” Chico said.
Estep emphasized that the development of this biometric technology in West Virginia could lead to a system that provides new tools to help law enforcement nationally and internationally.
“This program puts into place the necessary information and tools to increase the likelihood of the safe return of missing children,” said Estep. “Through state-of-the-art biometric technology and critical partnerships between the technology, law enforcement, media and private sector communities, we can all work together to aid in the recovery of missing children.”
For further information on the AmberView program, go to http://www.amberview.org .
The WVHTC Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Fairmont, W.Va., functioning as an engine of economic change for growing a statewide and regional high tech business sector. The Foundation has established a multi-faceted approach to maximize economic development, including infrastructure development, research and development, commercialization and workforce development.