Partnership Creates Database to Identify Missing Children

National program uses iris recognition system.

PHOENIX -- The Nation's Missing Children Organization (NMCO) has partnered with The Point Group Companies (TPG) to create and maintain a national database designed to identify and locate missing children and adults through the use of iris recognition technology.

The Children's Identification and Location Database (CHILD) project is a secure nationwide network and registry that will be available to law enforcement and social service agencies and maintained at NMCO's Phoenix, Ariz. headquarters. The CHILD project will create a national registry designed to give authorized users access to data that can positively identify children in seconds.

Iris recognition biometric technology determines the identity of an individual by capturing a high-resolution digital photograph of an individual's iris. The technology can tell the difference between twins or even an individual's right and left eye. The technology is nonintrusive, so the individual does not need to touch anything. An image of the iris is captured simply by looking into the camera, and the information is placed into the national database. The equipment is also portable and simple to use, making it ideal for use at remote locations.

Rollout of the application is expected to begin this spring, during which the CHILD project will contact social service and public safety agencies, such as county sheriff and police departments, to gauge their interest in participating in the program. The CHILD project will offer concerned agencies and organizations a low-cost iris recognition system that will enable authorized users access to NMCO's database to both enroll individuals in the program and check them against the nationwide database. Participation is entirely voluntary, just as it is now with fingerprint and photo ID card programs.

Kym Pasqualini, president and CEO of NMCO said, "This unique and innovative program will fill an important gap in our nation's ability to quickly and positively identify missing children and adults."
Miriam Jones is chief copy editor of Government Technology, Governing, Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines. She joined e.Republic in 2000 as an editor of Converge magazine.