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It may sound weird to fire up an app if your kid is missing, as many would just dail 911 right away. That should definitely be the first action but the FBI Child ID app can be very useful because you can enter in more information (like photos, height, weight) that could assist in the search. The app also includes tips for keeping your kid safe.
This is a great move by the government in spending its resources for an app that could actually make a difference.
It is currently available only for the iPhone but also works on the iPad and iPod Touch. (A device with a camera is required to use the app to take a photo of the child.)
Parents can use the app to record information about each of their kids and take a photo of each kid from directly within the app. There are also fields for the child’s name, nicknames, address, date of birth, and ethnicity, and several fields for “identifying characteristics” information.
Once you’ve completed the process, it just sits on your iPhone. In the unlikely event that your child does go missing, there is a Send button that can be used to e-mail the data to authorities. The app doesn’t display any e-mail addresses where the data and photos should be sent so parents will need to gather any relevant e-mail addresses. The app emphasizes that the first thing a parent should do in an emergency is to call 911, which you can do from within the app. The app also has a button for parents to call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. (You can also call 800 THE LOST–800-853-5678). I serve as an unpaid member of the center’s board of directors.
No data sent to FBI or Apple
An FBI poster about the app says, “please be assured, no information about you or your child will be collected or stored by the FBI or iTunes.” This is an important point because, for a variety of reasons including immigration issues, some parents are reluctant to provide information about their kids or themselves to authorities.
The app also includes safety tips for parents and a link to the National Child Identification Program Kit, which can be used to collect DNA samples and fingerprints.