Giving back. Paying it forward. They’re nice sentiments, but how often do we—individuals, families, teams, companies—pursue or seize an opportunity to use our talents and resources for the greater good? Well, we’ve been fortunate to have encountered just such an opportunity. A big one, actually. One we thought it was too good not to share—using digital signage to help bring missing children home.

Something Happened

Shortly after first becoming a father, I remember a subtle, but noticeable change in my emotional makeup. Now responsible for a little person, who I also happened to take an immediate shining to, all ‘the feels’ felt like they were a little closer to the surface. Life seemed just a bit more precious, and all of a sudden other kiddos in my periphery weren’t just anonymous little people, they were someone’s child.

There’s a significant difference.

I was still a father of one when I began working at Screenfeed, but in the nearly nine years since, not only have my wife and I added two more to Team Erickson, but the company kid-count has sprouted from 4 to 19 (that’s a 375% increase folks) and that doesn’t count all the nephews, nieces, godchildren, etc. in our team members’ orbit.

So when a chance introduction came about with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) last fall, you can imagine the collective ears at Screenfeed perked up—bigtime.

Help Bring Them Home

According to FBI data, over 424,000 entries for missing children were entered into the National Crime Information Center in 2018 alone—a number roughly the same as the population of our home city of Minneapolis. NCMEC has been hard at work since 1984 to combat that number by serving as the national clearinghouse and resource center for information about missing and exploited children. They’ve circulated billions of photos, and teamed up with local law enforcement with recovery assistance and education, contributing to the recovery of over 296,000 missing children. Part of their efforts have been in publishing monthly posters which are then printed and posted in public spaces like the checkout area at major retail locations. These posters are fueled by their dynamic database of child profiles, detailing key imagery and information curated to help solicit the help of the general public in strategic areas and communities. It’s been a key point of information distribution, but it was time to take it to the next level.

“That’s Exactly What We Do.”

You've probably heard 'the sweet spot' described as the place where your passion intersects your skills and abilities. This opportunity landed right in ours. Organize incoming data, image or video assets, funnel it through carefully-crafted design and animation, sprinkle in some automation, localization and customizability, and you’ve essentially defined Screenfeed’s M.O., a secondary reason for the collective ear-perking mentioned earlier. We’ve developed a heart specifically for children, especially children at risk of exploitation or inequality (more news on that in the near future). Our leadership team quickly realized NCMEC’s data and mission was a natural fit for Screenfeed’s values and abilities.

We set to work almost right away.

The really exciting part is because of the mission behind this content, we’re offering it FREE of charge forever.

After months of careful design and development collaboration, our team was able to create a brand new content channel for displaying the names and faces most in need of help on screens in the communities most likely to recognize them. Now as an alternative to the more manual process of disseminating and managing print-based posters, digital screens can stay up-to-date with profiles that are most pertinent to their physical location. In an industry that supports public digital screens in a wide variety of everyday venues, digital signage has a unique opportunity to saturate communities with what could be life-saving visual information.

The really exciting part is because of the mission behind this content, we’re offering it FREE of charge forever.

Increasing the Odds

Given the incredible recall and action rates our industry enjoys, the opportunity to increase the odds of child recovery is too good to pass up.

I think NCMEC’s Director of Case Management Services, Patricia Willingham, sums it up well saying,

“We know that a picture is one of the most important tools in the search for a missing child. The ability to get a child’s face in front of the public greatly improves the chance that someone will provide the tip that law enforcement needs to safely recover that child.”

Two Ways to Act Now

At this point, we’ve made OUR commitment - the content is FREE and available, now the opportunity for action falls to you, and there two simple ways to follow through - now.

  1. Display the content. “Save :10 to Save a Child.” Setup takes less than 5 minutes.
  2. Spread awareness. Share this post, or at the very least, take 5-10 minutes to educate yourself on the work NCMEC is doing. Learn how we can all work together to help bring missing children home.

Users can localize their NCMEC feed to feature children most likely to be seen in their area.