Using Artificial Intelligence to Find Missing Persons

Published Jul-31-19

An AI tool to find missing persons is one of the winners of an Amazon open innovation competition.

Amazon Web Services, United States

The Story:

Using Artificial Intelligence to Find Missing Persons In 2018 Amazon Web Service (AWS) launched its 2018 AWS AI Hackathon, an open innovation contest that challenged participants to build intelligent apps using pre-trained machine learning computer vision, natural language processing, speech recognition, text-to-speech, and machine translation API services

The contest attracted a huge response from the developer community with more than 900 submissions from all over the world. Participants attempted to address problems in numerous fields including ecommerce, health and entertainment.

Their innovations were judged according to a number of set criteria including the creativity and originality of the idea, implementation of the idea and its overall impact.

Missing Persons

The winner was Second Alert, an artificial intelligence tool developed by Horacio Canales that enables people from around the world to identify missing persons, including human trafficking victims and children too young to remember their family members’ names.

“I think that people get lost twice,” said Canales when explaining the motivation behind his innovation. “First when they are reported and are being sought and second when their disappearance ends up piled in a database.”

A user can access Second Alert from any web browser, including mobile phones and interact with an intelligent chatbot. For example, if someone is trying to find a missing person the bot will ask them to type in the name of the country they want information from.

The system will then retrieve records and reports of missing people drawn from official sources. Users can also work with the bot to refine their search. For example, they can ask questions such as "can you find my cousin?" to which the reply will be "how old is he/she?"; "when did he/she first go missing?"; "what's his or her name?” and so on until hopefully, Second Alert finds information about the individual in question. Users can also submit a photo of a missing person, and the AI tool will check on its server for information about him or her.

Canales picked up a check for $5,000 for winning the open innovation competition and following his win said he would try to work with government institutions to promote Second Alert and to improve its data scraping, that is the way data is extracted from websites.

Other prize winners in the 2018 AWS AI Hackathon were:

Mobu, by Yosun Chang and Luannie Dang - this is an "empathy-empowered movie buddy robot" that uses chat, image recognition and a person's mood to recommend movies.

Lab Monitor by a team from the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education - their innovation is an app that runs on students’ computers to help them stay focused during technical lab classes. For example, a Sumerian host, Christine, uses Amazon Polly to speak to students when any number of things occur such as scolding them if they're watching YouTube videos but also to congratulate them on passing a test. Students can also ask Christine questions such as to check their overall class/training progress.

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