A new online service is setting out to use technology to make it easier to find people who have gone missing.
Jeremy Reynolds, 32, of Sheboygan, has started a company called If I Go Missing, LLC. Its mission is to provide a comprehensive, secured digital database that would both supply vital information to law enforcement and assist loved ones of those who have gone missing.
“By subscribing to the service, you’re immediately thinking proactively,” said Reynolds.
Users of this service will create an online profile that includes data relevant to a law enforcement search for a missing person. Profile categories include personal medical, technological, identification, banking, vehicle and additional information, and dental and medical records, photos, and copies of various forms of identification can also be uploaded. Potential users of the service include families, college students and the elderly.
While using this service is a way for families or individuals to be proactive in the event of an emergency, Reynolds stressed that the first step in a missing persons search is still to contact law enforcement and file a missing persons report.
“We are not a locating service,” said Reynolds. “We are not a substitute for law enforcement. We are a tool to make the police officer’s life easier and to make finding your loved one happen faster.”
Law enforcement has an extensive list of critical pieces of information that aid in a missing persons search, Reynolds said, with about 300 pieces of information that pertain to physical description and about 45 more just to do with computers and technology.
After a missing persons report is filed, If I Go Missing transfers the information from its database to law enforcement to aid in the search and reduce time spent collecting crucial data.
“Law enforcement has been reacting to this very well because they would rather spend time following leads, not gathering leads. There’s a big difference. The first three hours of an investigation are the most critical,” said Reynolds.
There are two options for signing up – single or family. Family accounts have two primary users and special designations for children. For both accounts, users assign “reporters,” which could include people such as relatives, co-workers or neighbors, who can report that someone has gone missing and work with If I Go Missing to facilitate the transfer of information from the service to law enforcement.
A family plan costs $150 per year, and a single plan costs $100 per year. The amount of the payment is largely in place to cover the costs of securing the information uploaded in the digital database, which is something that Reynolds has made a top priority.
“It’s a very, very complex solution for security,” he said. Even the designated “reporters” do not have access to the information or the accounts.
The business is still fairly new, having launched on Sept. 30. Further implementation of the service is also planned should the business grow. Currently, Reynolds is working to build exposure of the service and be an advocate for missing person causes through social media and a regularly updated blog. Through this process, he’s also connected with other missing children advocacy groups.
One of those groups is the Center for Search and Investigation (CFSI), a nonprofit group that does missing child discovery work. In early March, Reynolds was named the state coordinator for CFSI Wisconsin.
CFSI founder and CEO Chuck Foreman called If I Go Missing a “cutting edge service.”
“Jeremy’s ifigomissing.com services will be beneficial to recover a person because it’s all about time,” said Foreman. “If you subscribe to his services, it takes time out of the picture because it’s ready to go right now.”
In addition to the primary services of the website, Reynolds said there is also a structure in place for worst case scenarios, where If I Go Missing would assist in media relations if there is a continued search for a loved one or provide grief counseling resources for post-traumatic stress or in the event of a death.
Reynolds said he got the idea for this venture when in March, 2012, he heard the news about a University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point college student who had gone missing and died, something that has become a fairly common occurrence in the state of Wisconsin in recent years. When reacting to that news with his wife and young daughter, he searched online to see if there was a digital service that would provide assistance if someone from his family were to go missing, but did not find what he was looking for. So, he created the website.
“I’ve always been the type of guy to look to technology for answers,” he said.
Dan Shafer covers innovation and technology for BizTimes Milwaukee. Send news to him at email@example.com, call him at 414-336-7123 or follow him on Twitter @danshaferMKE.