In India, roughly about every 8 minutes a child goes missing. Approximately 1 lakh children go missing every year and nearly half of them are untraced. After a child is abducted/ goes missing the first 24 hours becomes the most crucial period this requires swift response and immediate call for action to trace and safe recovery of the child. This lead to Amber Alert plan implementation in the United States where 75% of the children are killed within the three hours of abduction. As of March 2018, 924 children in total have been successfully recovered due to Amber Alert being issued. The success of this program in the United States lead to other countries like Canada, Europe, Malaysia and Ecuador to adopt Amber Alert system to alert people when a child is abducted. We need to implement similar alert system in India which would increase the chance of recovering the missing children.
There are three ways through which Amber Alert could be implemented in India: Mobile Technology, Social Media and Newspaper/Local Radio Stations. Among them, using Mobile Technology to send alerts would be the best way to reach the maximum number of people in lesser time and resource.
Now, we should implement the Amber Alert plan using Wireless Emergency Alerts system that is using Mobile Technology. There are some required steps and resources to implement the plan. Firstly, we need to secure space for collaboration with the service providers. Secondly, a team that would work on implementing Amber Alert. Thirdly, develop and test the alert system to create awareness among the public about the system. Finally, after the alert system is implemented and fully functional we will require a rescue team to work whenever an alert is issued.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, everyday hundreds of children are abducted/missing in India. The categories of the abducted or missing children include abductions by family or non-family members, trafficked children, lost child or children forced to run away due to the circumstances around them. According to NCRB, the crimes against children in India has increased over 5 times in the past 10 years. Their loss is a nightmare and inconceivable by the parents therefore, the number of children that goes missing every year should not be only considered as mere statistics. Despite large number of children missing in India every day there is no alert system implemented yet that would inform public about the child abducted.
Overview of alternatives
According to “Top 10 States/UTs in terms of highest Crime rate of Kidnapping and Abduction during 2016”. During 2016 the crime rate was found to be 6.9 at All – India 2016. There 77250, 83005 and 88008 cases of abduction and kidnapping reported during the period of 2014 to 2016 respectively. As per the analysis an increase of 7.4% increase in kidnapping and 6% increase in 2016 as shown in Exhibit 1.
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As per the article “One lakh children go missing in India every year: Home Ministry” (Tiwary, 2018). In the past three and the half years almost 50,000 children are missing from Maharashtra making it one of the worst states in terms of children protection. While Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh comes next with 25,000 missing children within this period. If we analyze the data properly we can observe that more girls are abducted compared to boys as shown in Exhibit 2.
To overcome the issue of child abduction and ensure the safe recovery of the children, we recommend Ministry of Women and Child Development to consider following three alternatives: Mobile Technology, Social Media and Newspaper to create an alert system. All these alternatives have been analyzed based on different criterion. In the modern era, these three technologies are easily accessible by all the users and hence can be proving to be very beneficial in implementing Amber Alert.
The parents can utilize the mobile technology to ensure the safety of their child. They can equip their children with technologies such as Mobile Phones or Amber Watch enabled with GPS that will help them to track children in case of emergency.
Social Media websites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram could be used to create awareness about the missing children and take quick action in case of emergency. Social Media websites are being used by people of every age and hence could be very effective in solving the missing cases. Recently in the start of 2015, Facebook joined Amber Alert system in the US. Facebook is now also extending the Amber Alerts service to Canada as well. Such kind of initiatives should be taken by other social media platform as well to help in saving child from missing.
Similarly, newspaper could also be used to create awareness and to track the missing children especially in rural areas of the country where the people are not economically sound and cannot afford the access to the new technologies. Thus, newspaper have its own importance and can be very effective.
As described above, all the alternatives have strength and weakness. To evaluate the alternatives, I have used three criteria – Cost, Technology, Difficulty of development, Effectiveness. First, the cost that would be required for all the alternatives to implement it from scratch and which would be less costly. Second, I considered the technology that would be required to implement these alternatives. Third, the difficulty of development, would be another criterion to compare three alternatives. Besides, required resources were considered in this category. Finally, I evaluated the effectiveness of the two alternatives whether sending out alerts on phones would be more effective and will have maximum impact or vice versa.
Analysis of alternatives
Criterion 1: Cost
If we analyze the cost of implementing Amber Alert through Mobile Technology, it would incur cost to the Government of India only at the initial phase while setting up the alert system to the service providers and thereafter once the system is in place the service can be offered for free to the public. Alternatively, if we consider social media there would be no cost to post on the social networks such as Facebook, Twitter however it can be less effective when compared to alerts sent on mobiles and pagers. Lastly, for Newspaper, the Government would have to pay the newspaper agency for posting an advertise in the newspaper each time the child goes missing which could be very expensive.
Criterion 2: Ease of Implementation
Implementing alert system using mobiles will be easier as the service providers must give the consent on whether they would like to send the alerts and the Government will have to just sign the contract with the service providers across the country. Posting on social media to create an alert about the child missing would be very easy but the downside is that the alert won’t reach maximum number of people in less time. Using newspaper, the ease of implementation will be least as Government will have to contact the newspaper agency every time the child goes missing.
Criterion 3: Effectiveness
Mobile Technology would be the most effective as the alerts can reach maximum number of smartphone users instantly. Hence, a quick action could be taken to save a child while social media would be the less effective as the number of people using social media such as Facebook, Twitter would be less compared to mobile phone users. Also, sometimes the credibility of the missing information of child could be questionable since people must post fake news about the child missing even when the child is recovered as there would be no one to update the post. This can result in no action taken by the public. Newspaper would be least effective of the rest two as the advertisement will be only delivered the next day.
Among three alternatives, Mobile Technology is the most effective alternative for sending alerts. The summarized comparison result is shown in below table.
Ease of Implementation
◎: Good(3 points), △: Meet expectation(2 points), ▼: Need to improve(1 point)
As per the analysis alternative 1 i.e. Mobile Technology and Social Media is better in terms of cost and effectiveness. Although, Newspaper would also be easy to implement but would require more cost.
Although Mobile Technology can offer the good solution for alert system, we need to improve our entire process to implement this change. Required resources and steps are as follows.
- Prepare for collaboration work (Now ~ Jan. 2019):
The Government will have to collaborate with different mobile service providers to finalize the cost and the effectiveness of their services. The Government will also have to analyze the network coverage in the congested areas. This step would take the maximum time since the decision will play a important role in the effective implementation of amber alert.
- Build a new team for the project (Now ~ Feb. 2019):
A dedicated team of employees who would be employed at the Government agencies to track the services provided by the different vendors and to track the implementation of the system and tracking and updating the information of missing child.
- Implement the service in different areas and test the system (Mar. 2019 ~ May. 2019):
Once the system is implemented and fully functional, a test alert should be sent out to the public to create awareness among them about the system. Test a few cases by sending trial alert and check the success of the system.
- Launch the alert system and rescue team (Jul. 2019 ~):
After the alert system is launched, there should be a rescue team in place which comprises of Police and technical people to deal with the emergency of missing child whenever an alert is issued. Also, to have a backup plan in place in case of system outage.
Exhibit 1: Top 10 States/UTs in terms of highest Crime rate of Kidnapping and Abduction during 2016
Exhibit 2: One lakh children go missing in India every year: Home Ministry (TimesofIndia, 2014)
Source: Khoya-Paya: Citizens Corner of Tracked child
Source: Source: Khoya-Paya: Citizens Corner of Tracked child
- (n.d.). Retrieved from http://khoyapaya.gov.in/mpp/dashboard#
- AMBER Alert. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.amberalert.gov/index.htm
- AMBER Alert. (2018, November 30). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMBER_Alert
- Dixit, P. (2015, May 27). Facebook’s Amber Alert service saved a child’s life. Retrieved from https://www.indiatoday.in/technology/news/story/facebook-amber-alert-service-254908-2015-05-27
- Magid, L. (2009, September 01). Can GPS help prevent another missing child? Retrieved from https://www.cnet.com/news/can-gps-help-prevent-another-missing-child/
- Open Government Data Platform India Blog. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://community.data.gov.in/
- Sign the Petition. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.change.org/p/maneka-gandhi-alertindia-implement-child-abduction-alert-broadcasting-system-in-india
- Top 10 States/UTs in terms of highest Crime rate of … (n.d.). Retrieved from https://community.data.gov.in/top-10-states-uts-in-terms-of-highest-crime-rate-of-kidnapping-and-abduction-during-2016/
- Tiwary, D. (2014, August 07). One lakh children go missing in India every year: Home ministry – Times of India. Retrieved from https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/One-lakh-children-go-missing-in-India-every-year-Home-ministry/articleshow/39779841.cms
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