Revolutionary Life-Saving Tech Helps Find Missing Persons

helicopter. image by pixabay

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Lifeseeker is a new kind of technology that could help Search and Rescue teams find missing people in mere minutes by tracking their cellphones, developed by the Spain-based company CENTUM Research & Technology.

The device is designed especially for Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopters and acts like a miniature cellphone tower that can even communicate with missing people whose cellphone is still operational and works in areas with limited or no cellphone service. It can detect cell phones within 32 km and precisely locate them within a 5 km radius.

Dr. Tim Durkin, a search and rescue program coordinator for Colorado Highland Helicopters, explained: “As we detect the phone, basically a blotch shows up on the map, and as we fly around that area, that blotch gets smaller and smaller and smaller until we can see exactly where they are. That process of detecting, focusing on one specific location takes about a minute — not really very long at all.”

Durkin also explained that depending on the situation, search and rescue teams can send ground crews to the person’s location or land the helicopter nearby if conditions allow. He added that during a recent test mission search crews located the two individuals they were searching for within two minutes and 14 seconds.

According to Interesting Engineering, Lifeseeker is a radio-based technology that requires a clear view of the terrain without interference to pick up the cellphone signal. It takes about three minutes to attach the Lifeseeker unit inside a helicopter when needed for a search and rescue mission.

Many cases of missing persons involve search missions that can last weeks without searchers finding the person they were looking for, leading to ground missions being called off. In those cases, Lifeseeker tech could be used to expedite and actually save lives.

Durkin provides an example – if two adults were lost in the mountains and were staying underneath the tree canopy, they would be completely hidden from searching parties flying overhead. However, with Lifeseeker, the tech could detect them easily orbiting 100 feet off the trees in a helicopter and direct the search party to them.