CNET news is reporting on how cell phone tracing was used in the search and rescue effort to find editor James Kim and his family, and how the technology is routinely used by law enforcement to locate missing people.
From the article —
Cellular phone networks have become key tools used by search and rescue teams as they try to locate people who’ve become lost in remote areas.
As has been reported in recent days, CNET Reviews editor James Kim and his family disappeared in Oregon during a Thanksgiving road trip. James’ wife, Kati, and their two children, Penelope and Sabine, were found safe Monday afternoon. The body of James Kim, who left his family on Saturday in search of help, was found Wednesday.
Authorities conducting the search said at a news conference Monday that a signal sent from the Kims’ mobile phone to a tower in the region was key to locating the family.
The search for the Kim family is the latest example of how important cell phone technology has become as a public safety tool.
While other technologies such as global positioning system, or GPS, navigation may help people find their way out of trouble, it does little to help when people are stranded on the side of the road like the Kims were. Tracking devices that send beacons to rescuers could be helpful, but they are used mostly by wilderness backpackers and backcountry skiers. Few people carry them on road trips. And even though satellite-based tracking technology exists, even fewer people are likely to consent to having their whereabouts tracked on a daily basis in the off chance that they might get lost on a backcountry road.
At the end of the day, the technology that has proved the most valuable for locating lost or missing people has been cellular phones.