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China launches a missing child alert with the help of Alibaba

China’s Ministry of Public Security launched an emergency response system to help find missing children on Sunday. The initiative involves the help of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba for technology support and Sina Weibo for posting information on missing children.

This new system is similar to the US’  America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER), an alert system for missing children.

Chinese police working on cases of missing children will first post messages, including photos and physical characteristics, on an internal system. The information can then be reposted to the public through Sina Weibo and Alibaba’s navigation app Amap with the purpose that the public can help find the missing children.

Additionally, the information will be automatically sent to those people who live  around the place where the children were initially lost. For instance, if a child is lost less than one hour beforehand, the information will be sent to those people within 100 km; if the child has been lost for over three hours, the coverage will reach 500 km.

Child trafficking is a serious problem in China. China Youth Daily reported last August that there were an estimated 200,000 missing children in China every year.

The Chinese government has been launching a crackdown on child trafficking since 2007. There are also many channels aiming to help parents find their children.

Sina Weibo has shown an ability to focus and coordinate the power of the people in the fight against child trafficking. In 2011 during the Spring Festival, a lost child was finally found with the help of Sina Weibo users transmitting and sharing the information.

WeChat has a role in the fight against child trafficking as well. In November 2005, Wechat worked with Tencent and the state-run ZhongShe Social Work Development Foundation, launching China’s Child Safety Emergency Response (CCSER), also an AMBER-like system on missing children. When a child is lost, his or her parents can release the lost information on the WeChat CCSER account and those WeChat users who subscribe to the account will work as volunteers to help  find the child.

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