The Glendale Police Department in California is partnering with Project Lifesaver to help reunite missing individuals with their loved ones by using wearable tracking devices.

Project Lifesaver is a nonprofit that helps to save lives and reduce potential injury for adults and children who wander due to Alzheimer’s disease, autism, and other related conditions or disorders. Through this partnership, the Glendale Police Department is hoping to reduce the time it takes to reunite missing people with their loved ones from hours and days to mere minutes.

The trackers, which look similar to a wristwatch or fitness tracker, can be worn either on the wrist or ankle. Rather than using GPS technology, the wearable uses radio frequencies that can be tracked by two mobile receivers the department uses. The department stresses that while the trackers make locating the missing individual easier, it’s still essential that loved ones and caregivers report the missing person as soon as possible.

“The tendency is that the family goes out looking for their loved one,” Glendale Police Sgt. Traci Fox said to the L.A. Times. “The technology works best when there’s an immediate notification that someone has gone missing.”

Since the launch of the program in 2016, four people have been located in minutes from being reported missing, the department said. Additionally, the trackers are meant to be worn 24 hours a day and are water-resistant. While it does take a couple of days to get used to the tracker, the department notes that only one participant in the 15-participant pilot has tried to remove the device.

The cost of the program falls on the participants, not taxpayers. It costs $375 for the first year and $100 for each following year to maintain the wearable.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs