Lost & Found: 
aka Project ROSE*

Lost & Found is a meaningful ‘game’ that uses mobile media and social networks to find missing children.

*ROSE is named in honour of the late Rosauria Bush of Nokia INDT: an amazing woman who dedicated her life’s work to the service of the world’s women and children.

image of lost and found
Lost & Found uses the power of mobile phone technologies and social networks to enable people to find missing children before it is too late to find them. It builds upon existing mobile phone-camera systems and links these to a specialised and protected online server that hosts real-time streaming information about children (or women, or elderly people) in the moment that they are taken or go missing. The aim is to go beyond the standard surveillance and ‘sousveillance’ systems in operation in most broadband connected parts of the world, and to insert an additional voluntary layer of active citizen participation, designed to prevent, solve and share information to protect children, without waiting the 24-48 hours required before the police will get involved. The aim is to use these discreet, quiet, free and non-violent, non-invasive forms to bring communities together to protect their own. Rather than people in their daily lives trying to remember the images of missing kids seen on milk cartons in the morning, this system sends the photo to the exact people who are positioned where they can help, in the moments when their help might make a real difference.

the ROSE service on a mobile
How it works: The moment that a child goes missing, the parents or carers can send an alert to the ROSE output (a specialised option on a standard Nokia handset). In the next moments, people who have subscribed to the Lost & Found service and who are positioned geographically and temporally near to the place where the child in questions was last seen, will be sent a picture of the child and a request for access to ‘ROSE’. If accepted, this command activates an over-ride option on the phone, to temporarily shut down other functions and make the phone a conduit for the parents and social network, enabling them to use the camera phones with GPS as two-way channels streaming real-time visual information, which together map out the possible trails along which the child might have been taken, and mobilise participants in the local area to break down the search and focus on specific parts of an overall map.

Why the social network rather than on standard police operations?: Lost & Found is not only faster but is also more inclusive, since people who for many reasons may not want the police to know where they are will not be afraid to participate in the Lost & Found project, since their information is filtered through the Lost & Found server and service, not directly through to the police. Thus vital clues need not be lost due to participant fear of the police.

Where will the project be based?: The main  project base is with the SMARTlab Digital Media Institute in East London – the rich centre of cultural mix, immigration and multicultural communications where there are more surveillance cameras operating than anywhere, but where problems of children’s safety are by no means solved. Londoners are already captured several hundred times a day. By combining these networks with the new tracking technologies of GPS, which is becoming increasingly ubiquitous, we use mobile technology to serve the people.

Venues for display of Lost & Found information: Buses, commuter/delivery trucks, toll booths, tube and underground train networks, and big public screens as well as the mobile phones of participants.

The big challenge – Safe Social Engagement: Part of the success of the project depends on the inclusion of a 3rd party (and system) to ensure that people can participate without being tagged or disclosed; based on a recognition that we must protect the privacy of participants as their own safety, privacy, security may be at stake. Despite the fact that this work creates a counter-trend to the rise of the use of ICTs as stalking tools, part of the design challenge becomes: How to ensure that people, including those being found, don’t become more vulnerable in the system?

Our solution: The police constabularies of Europe have signed up through Project Genesis of the EC to work together to help stop the trafficking of women and children. We are working closely with the Genesis network but building in a safety layer to protect all participants. We will seek cooperation of a similar kind from all participating countries in the pilot.

What the project needs:

1) Start up funds to develop and test the system – ROSE dongle/switch integration with Nokia handsets, bespoke server and camera systems integrated with the new ivisit camera-sight system: £300k sought from Nokia HQ for this work to be achieved in collaboration with the SMARTlab UK. Funds required from July 09 to allow for live launch of a pilot in September ’09 between London and Sao Paulo.

2) Local site participation funds to enable a first trial – between London (SMARTlab) and Sao Paulo (Mobilefest) – £100k sought from INDT-Nokia Brazil to integrate the systems within the Brazilian tech infrastructure, to allow  first launch and trials at Mobilefest Brazil in September 2009. Funds required from July ’09 to allow development before September.

3) Second phase trials to be established – in the UK (London linking to Belfast and Inverness), Ireland (Dublin), Spain (Barcelona), the Netherlands (Amsterdam), Morocco (Marrakech), India (Mumbai), Brazil (Sao Paulo linking to Rio), and the USA (New York and Los Angeles). £100k per site sought from local government authorities to set up the trials with local service providers and networks.

4) Development to market – funds and marketing plan to be established with Nokia and partners: tbc.

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