"I hope this trend continues, where social empowers us to change the world around us." —juror Perry Fair
"A very smart use of social networking communications to help solve a very serious problem." —juror Scott Prindle
Overview: The Missing Children Society (MCSC) is the only organization in Canada committed to the search and rescue of missing children. They handle an estimated 50,000 reported cases every year and receive no government funding support. As a result, they have very limited financial resources for expansive search efforts. The World’s Most Valuable Social Network uses the power of online communities to create the first-ever online search party the minute a child goes missing; by allowing individuals to donate their newsfeeds to the MCSC it gives the authorities direct access to that person’s social network. The tool launched as part of International Missing Children’s Day on May 25 along with a digital campaign to promote sign-ups.
• From start to finish the project took less than six months, development time was a short two months and beta testing and coordinating with authorities took another three months.
• In the first 2 weeks more than 10,000 people signed up to use the tool. The current social reach is over 1.5 million people every time a missing child alert goes out; the tool is projected to reach 70 percent of all Canadians.
• Geo-targeted functionality allows people to receive alerts either nationally or more specifically to where they live.
Comments by Patrick Scissons:
Did you learn anything new during the process? "I have a renewed perspective on the power of social media. With Facebook going public and the value of social networks being debated in the media, we realized there was the potential to use these millions of interconnected people for a higher purpose—to help find missing children."
Were there any specific demands that made the project easier or harder? "The emotional weight of the subject matter and the cause were both difficult to deal with and rewarding. Looking over the case database and working with investigators was troublesome, but when the tool found its first missing child, it was an incredibly satisfying."
What would you do differently if you could start the project over? "Nothing. The Most Valuable Social Network has already helped find six children. Most importantly, it’s empowered an entire nation to be a part of the search process and will, I hope, make perpetrators think twice the next time they consider abducting a child—because now there’s no place to hide."