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Russia: Crowdsourcing Project for Finding Missing Children

RuNet Echo This post is part of RuNet Echo, a Global Voices project to interpret the Russian language internet. All Posts · Learn more

The emergence of the search and rescue team Liza Alert [ru] is hardly a typical story for the Web. After September 13, 2010, when Liza Fomkina disappeared in the town of Orekhovo-Zuevo [about 80 kilometers, or 50 miles, east of Moscow], the flaws in the work of the Interior and Emergency Situations ministries became clear. Shaken by this tragic story and responding to the call for help, volunteers decided to unite in order to ensure nothing like it would ever happen again. And so the search team Liza Alert was formed online.

Liza Alert's work is based on crowdsourcing. The community exists and grows almost exclusively thanks to its online effect and the wide territorial dispersion of its volunteers.

Screenshot of the main page of lizaalert.org

Liza Alert's advantages:

  • A large base of volunteers
  • A developing infrastructure
  • Information support from the media and the online community
  • A simple functional site
  • It provides real help in the offline world.

Organizers have managed to recruit not only concerned citizens to the project, but also a number of experts with useful skills. Volunteers working with Liza Alert in the search for missing children include: dog-handlers and trackers, 4×4 and quad-bike drivers, and aircraft and boat pilots. Nikolai Lomakin, one such volunteer, says:

I can't stay home when a person has gone missing in the forest. More than likely, they're alive, and we'll search for them until we find them.

Any concerned individual can contribute to Liza Alert. One simply needs to complete the volunteer form, joining any of the existing teams on a real-time basis.

The site Liza Alert is accessible to all Internet users. As a resource, it is very simple and functional. Information is posted on the portal about projects, current searches, and so on. Telephone numbers for reporting disappearances and learning how to take part in searches are also available on the site. (Specific information about individual searches’ progress, however, was made inaccessible to the general public, after a child-abductor used data published on Liza Alert's portal to evade the authorities.)

Original [ru]

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