To the Rescue: IoT Helps Locate Lost Children in Crowded Public Spaces

When children get lost in crowded shopping centers, IoT technology can help security teams identify, locate, and track movement of the missing youngster. Learn how malls are using a network of intelligent cameras, computer vision, mapping, and automated response technology to provide an extra layer of security in public spaces.


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Image credit: iOmniscient 

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: their child gets separated from them in a crowded shopping mall or other public area. Most of the time, thankfully, the child is quickly reunited with a parent or caregiver. But the terrifying minutes between noticing the child is not within sight and finding the child can seem like hours.

According to National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCME) statistics, a child goes missing every 90 seconds. About 4,600 children are abducted each year. In 2019 alone, NCME assisted law enforcement and families with more than 29,000 missing children cases. Of these, about 90 percent were children under age 18 who had run away. But the others disappeared under other circumstances.

Digital Location Tracking

Several different types of IoT technologies can help parents keep track of their children. Parents can install mobile GPS location tracker apps such as Find My Kids, for instance, on their child’s smartphone to keep tabs on their child’s whereabouts. The advantages of child tracking systems include helping children retain a sense of independence while parents know they’re safe.

However, kids can lose their phones or leave them behind, and it’s not practical to give young children their own smartphones. Devices such as the Jiobit tracking system work with a small, lightweight device that can be clipped to a backpack or belt loop to help parents know their child’s location. The technology can also help pet owners locate Fido, or help people keep tabs on their elderly parents. The app sends alerts to signal when the wearer has left a specified location or might be in danger and offers tracking capabilities. 

Location Tracking in Public Spaces

In a crowded public space however, a young child often does not have a tracking device on his or her body. And separation from a parent can lead to high anxiety. 

iOmniscient, an Intel® Solutions Marketplace partner, provides a solution for this scenario. One of the applications of iOmniscient’s patented artificial intelligence platform is to help security teams find lost and missing children in shopping centers, malls, and other crowded locations. 

The iOmniscient platform’s modular building blocks can be combined in several ways for different usages. Pairing facial recognition with a response system enables the system to identify, track, and locate individuals as they travel in public spaces–making it a valuable solution for quickly finding lost children.  

missing child information with map of venue

Image credit: iOmniscient 

Automated ID and Rapid Response

Here’s how it works. When a parent reports a missing child, a security guard can use his or her smartphone with the iQ-Mobile app to take a photo of the parent, and the security team uploads the image to the platform’s face recognition system. The parent’s face is registered in the system’s facial database. 

The iOmniscient platform connects to the shopping center’s intelligent cameras throughout the facility and has the capability to quickly analyze video at the edge. Rapidly searching through video footage, the platform identifies images that contain the parent and the child when they first entered the facility together. 

Using footage from the low-resolution cameras throughout the location, the system can isolate the child’s image and begin searching for the image from all cameras in the network. The system can map the child’s movement in real time and show where the child has been, along with their current location.

iOmniscient’s highly automated response system, A.S.A.P.™, then locates and sends the information to the phone of the nearest security guard, based on the GPS in his or her smartphone. The guard then gets the child’s photo and unites the child with his or her parents. According to iOmniscient, the entire process can take only a few minutes from report to reunion.

Learn more about iOmniscient solutions:

  • Review the different applications of the iOmniscient platform.
  • See the iOmniscient technology in the Intel® Solution Marketplace
  • Watch a video to learn more about how the solution can help find lost and missing children.
  • View a webinar with Intel® and iOmniscient on the retail industry, artificial intelligence, and video analytics.


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