In early 2022, Lane County Missing launched a project to tackle the work of helping locate missing persons from our area. In doing so, we decided to put together a brief synopsis of what it is that we are trying to do, what we’ve accomplished so far, and what are next steps are. The are summarized below.
Problem Statement – What is the problem that we are trying to solve?
- Getting information out in a timely manner.
- Keeping information in front of people as time goes on.
- Getting more exposure in more places.
- Law enforcement funds and resources are stretched thin
- Volunteers are hard to come by
- Lack of resources
- Inaccurate, unreliable
- Example: Missing Person sites will include a person’s age. However, the age reflects the person’s age at the time that they went missing and not their current age.
- Example: Photos of missing persons also reflect the person’s age at time of disappearance.
- Information Gaps
- Lack of photos
- Information not kept current
- Disposition of those found are unknown
What we’ve done:
- Built a custom database to accommodate multiple sources
- Created programs to download information automatically from the Oregon State Police
- Built an admin tool for managing the data on our end including photo management
- Hours of research populating the database from multiple sources
- Created Ad Generator to displaying Missing Person ads. These ads are seen roughly 25,000 times per day (and growing.)
- Created and launched an Online Missing Persons Report tool (unofficial) so that information can get out online as quickly as possible.
- Complete work on a new missing persons web site that is independent of Lane County Missing
- Create a 501c3 non-profit for the new site and organization so that we can seek grants and accept donations
- Expand into other Oregon counties
- Expand outside of Oregon
LCM founder Michael Weber explains the goals of the Missing Persons Project on KEZI 9 News
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Here is how this project can help:
- Increase exposure to missing people
- Provide a way to collect new missing person information before it becomes official. Publish and display ads/posts for unofficial missing persons.
- Use custom algorithms to ensure balance in missing person ad exposure
- Utilize text alerts and email notifications to reach more people.
- Develop further channels to maximize exposure
- Ads on Facebook and other channels for the new Missing Persons site we will be launching
- Utilize business/organizational sponsorships as a community engagement opportunity.
- Create and foster community standing by showing commitment to the greater good of the community.
- Helps give exposure to families that can’t afford to advertise their loved ones.
- Can reduce tax burden.
- Can promote civic engagement.
- Sponsor wall – A page on the site listing donors that have chosen to appear. Gold, Silver, Platinum levels, etc.
- Missing person ads with sponsorship info at the bottom.
- Display on
- Web Sites
- Lane County Missing (LCM)
- Oregon Crime News (OCN)
- Embed code for others
- Facebook pages and groups
- Lane County Missing (LCM) and Oregon Crime News (OCN)
- Other applicable area groups
- New Missing Persons Facebook group and page
- Email Newsletter
- Include QR & Short Link
- Web Sites
- Help law enforcement efforts by giving them access to the system possibly with extra features.
- Create family and volunteer access to the system to help with updating the information.
- Become a source of truth for information
- Make information as accurate and reliable as possible
- Connect with families and law enforcement.
- Implement user input quality controls to maintain consistency.
- Use a moderation process to verify information before publishing.
- Establish periodic review process
- Fill gaps in information by aggregating from multiple sources
- Automated data crawlers
- Law Enforcement
- User comments
- Create a campaign to get photos for every missing person possible
- Utilize aging programs to create age-updated photos. Update them once a year.
- Ensure that links always work, even if a person has been found
- When a person has been found, include information as appropriate about their disposition and circumstances.
- Utilize discussion features for people to talk about the cases
- Create a way for tracking clues and tips
- Update clues and tips from social media comments on posts
- Provide a way for anonymous tip reporting
- Create PDF downloadable posters for printing
- Display on