NCMEC and Intel Corp Collaborate in AI Initiative to Find Missing Children


Orange County, CA - January 19th 2018 -  An estimated 465, 676 children were reported missing in 2016 according to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Up by 1.07 percent from 2015 many organizations have been formed in an effort to stop this epidemic.

Of these organizations the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a private, non-profit organization, is serving as a resource for information on missing and exploited children. Its founders include John Walsh, host and creator of TV show America’s Most Wanted, along with his wife Reve and other child advocates. Recently the NCME has joined forces with Intel Corp, to collaborate on an AI program named Intel Inside, Safer Children Outside -to organize the approximate 8 million cyber tips received annually by the organization.

The NCMEC was founded in 1984 by the Walshes after the abduction and murder of their son Adam in order to bring together law enforcement and technology to assist in finding lost children. “We have assisted in the recovery of 220,000 missing children in that time,” said Mark Gianturco, vice president and CTO of the NCMEC at a panel hosted by Intel at the 2017 South by Southwest Film Festival. A large part of this success is due to technological advances in AI software. Intel, alongside Google, Microsoft, Thorn, and Palantir, are helping NCMEC create a comprehensive plan to store massive volumes of data in a variety of ways in order to consistently have that data shared by all the applications in use. AI is automating and speeding up this extensive process. 

NCMEC and Intel Corp Collaborate in AI Initiative to Find Missing Children

The organization increasingly turns to technology to solve their cases- from finding patterns in IP addresses to matching background items in a sea of grainy photographs, “analysts have their eyes on [these types of] cases every day,” said John Clark, CEO of NCMEC. “But as the volume in the pipeline continues to rise, we have to be more and more efficient. Clearly technology has to be front and center.”

Due to the high volume of reports the NCMEC CyberTipline receives, AI interference is vital. “We don’t want to kick the can down the road to law enforcement,” said Michelle DeLaune, the first analyst at the NCMEC upon its inception and now senior vice president and COO. She has borne witness to the growth and influx of raw information being obtained by the organization. “We need to provide them with better, more streamlined information.” AI is helping NCMEC automate its data and speed the creation of useful reports police and federal authorities use to find missing children.

While automation is critical, Gianturco is most excited for alternative means of finding children with AI. Some of these methods include IP tracking and facial recognition; furthermore he envisions the advancements in the application of age progression to facial images. If a child has been missing for multiple years, a computer model can simulate the individuals present day appearance. Although currently. Implemented by the NCME as a key software tool, technological advancements will aid in improving system accuracy.

Conversely, Gianturco said it will be possible to create a website that allows a person to upload a current picture- and using the AI modeling process to look back in time- see if a younger version of that face matches a missing person report. However, the NCME’s work has just begun for these advances require a massive amount of computing power and require careful thought about security and public privacy.

“We’re making sure we’re facing into the future, not just relying on where we are today,” said Clark.


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