A donation from a California information systems company could make the Utah Child Abduction Team's job of recovering missing children a little bit easier.
A team of nearly 50 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies CART, as the group is known works with local police to find missing or kidnapped children after an Amber Alert. The team has lots of expertise but no budget for sophisticated technology to aid in searches.
Now CART will have help from ArcGIS software that combines aerial maps with databases to help reconstruct the area where a child was last seen.
"The software gives us the opportunity to visualize the crime scene," CART analyst Bill Fossmo said.
The software costs $10,000. It was donated to CART by the Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. of Redlands, Calif., which develops geographic information systems technology. The donation includes technical support from the company.
The program can cut hours off a search, said Lt. Jessica Farnsworth of the Utah Attorney General's Office.
"It's like having all the legwork done at the beginning," she said.
CART, whose experts do everything from analysis, to search and rescue and volunteer search coordination, has not yet had to use the software.
The software program can provide aerial views of a location, including circumferences that intersect with roads, locate the homes of registered sex offenders and provide topographical maps of potential hazards, like mine shafts.
Statistics show the chances of returning a kidnapped child home safely are best in the first three hours.