This June we had the chance to take a glimpse of the ChildRescue solution and the potential it brings! During the last plenary meeting in Brussels, the ChildRescue consortium had a hands-on experience on the first version of the integrated ChildRescue platform, which consists of a web and a mobile app. This first version supports some of the core ChildRescue functionalities: the user can register a new missing child case, send location-based alerts and notifications to mobile users and receive their feedback.
The platform is currently undergoing further development in order to reach full functionality, but the general software design activities have been completed. So, this is a good point to make an introduction to the structure that lies behind the platform: the ChildRescue architecture.
The ChildRescue system is composed of individual components designed to fit together and be connected. This approach in software architecture is called ‘modular’ and has a lot of pros: every component can be independently developed and exploited as a stand-alone service, but can also be a part of the integrated system.
Now that we know the concept, let’s take a look on every single component and its role in the ChildRescue system:
The Data Harmonisation & Interoperability Space gathers data from external systems, transforms it into a unified, usable format and feeds it to the other ChildRescue components. This space ‘talks’ to the existing systems of the missing children organisations and connects to open databases with meteorological data, transportation data, cultural events and more.
The Case Manager Component creates the multilayer profile of the child. It runs an ongoing information collection process, which will not let anything related to the case slip away, coming either from other components or that is manually registered by an operator. It is also responsible to create public alerts with information on the case, available to users of the mobile app that are within a defined area and in a defined time period.
The Profiling and Prediction Engine performs the core data analytics of ChildRescue. It uses techniques like clustering and classification and provides useful insights on the activity and behaviour of the child. It also combines data from all external sources and old cases so that new points of interest are brought to light.
The Evaluation Engine carries out the quality and content pre-evaluation of feedback. It assists the operators to easily mark spam messages and single out information that seems actually relevant to the case. Data analytics are deployed again to produce a first evaluation score for feedback: they evaluate the source, detect inconsistencies in submitted information and group nearby feedback.
The Privacy, Anonymisation, Synchronisation & Security Engine is responsible for the end-to-end protection of data privacy of children registered in ChildRescue and every user of the web and mobile app. To do that, ChildRescue uses various methods, such as pseudonymization, anonymisation, and encryption, which allow the secure storage, transmission and analysis of data. This component also ensures that when a case is closed, any remaining traces are removed from the mobile apps.
The Intelligent Search Engine speeds up the retrieval of old cases that are in some way related or similar to a case. Indexing makes queries faster; approximate string matching solves the problem of different spellings of the same name.
The Collaboration Space is the communication point for search & rescue and volunteer teams that take part in an active investigation. The responsible managers for the investigation can post information and guidelines on an announcement board. They can also assign tasks to the volunteers and have an overview of the teams through an interactive map. Rescuers and volunteers get informed from the announcement board and have discussions or exchange files while searching an area.
The Control Room is available to users with managerial role and gives them a visual overview of the organisation’s cases, resources and the progress of investigations. The visualisation of data and results allows users to get an overall understanding with just a glimpse on a graphic.
The Notification Engine generates the push notifications for the mobile apps. These notifications are location based and time-restrained, which means that they will appear only in mobiles, inside the defined area, at the exact time the notification is diffused.
The Blockchain is responsible to guarantee that feedback cannot be tampered with. However, as data stored in the blockchain cannot be altered or deleted, only non-personal information is stored in the blocks.
In Figure 2 you can get a better picture of all these components and their functionalities:
The modular approach of ChildRescue enables the development teams to separate tasks and work independently, prioritise functionalities and in the end attach the individual parts to the greater system. So far, a number of the components has been fully integrated and the ChildRescue partners are working at full speed towards the second release of the platform!
Under the Horizon2020 framework and with the European Commission funding, this social innovation project is becoming a tool in the hands of every active citizen and a valuable assistance for the organisations and authorities that investigate missing children cases, with a special focus on the unaccompanied refugee minors’ cases. Few months are left, stay tuned!