Bay County officials introduces new tool to help find missing children

A new geo-fencing program in Bay County will help law enforcement find missing children faster.
Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 9:00 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It’s a scary situation. One moment a child is with his family. And the next, they go missing.

But now Bay County officials have a new tool to help find kids quickly.

It’s called ‘Beaches Alert.’

Similar to amber alerts, this system will send out push notifications to local residents and businesses.

“Your cellphone will alert,” BCSO Emergency Response Director, Lt. Andy Husar said. “You don’t have to have the app on your phone. It’s almost like an amber alert but not really. If you’re in that area that we set for that alert to go out, you’re going to get notified.”

Through geofencing, specific areas are pinpointed, to help localize where a lost child was last seen.

Instead of being alerted statewide, the program will be specifically for the beach areas.

Especially now that we’re entering the spring and summer seasons.

The alerts will keep the community updated on where a missing child was last seen, getting the word out quickly to people like beach vendors, lifeguards, and jet ski operators.

It’s a system designed to be quick, getting alerts out in under 30 seconds.

“We tested it this morning and it was 15 seconds, from the time we get the information, till it went to the first cellphone,” Husar said.

This program is connected to the alerts sent out for hurricanes and severe weather through the Bay Alert app.