The Associated Press had a story this past Sunday regarding an online database (NamUs) that "promises to crack some of the nation's 100,000 missing persons cases and provide answers to desperate families."

That's some database!

On further reading it becomes evident that the database isn't really going to crack anything.

How disappointing.

Contrary to popular thinking (and even contrary to the assumptions expressed in the article), when we plug-in information technology, benefits do not automatically occur. Costs are not automatically reduced, productivity does not automatically rise, and missing persons are not automatically located.

As it turns out, law enforcement officials are supposed to use this database to help solve missing person cases.

It seems like common sense, but if we're shocked and appalled that law enforcement officials are not using the system, we shouldn't be. You see it's equally true that the vast majority of organizations simply don't think this way, preferring the we-will-build-it-and-they-will-come-and-benefits-will-automatically-happen mindset.

Do law enforcement agencies even know about the system? Do they know how to use it? Did anyone ask them if they had the man-power to enter information in the system? Have they changed their procedures?

Tremendous kudos to Janice Smoliksi for championing the other enabling changes (training and help in offsetting the costs associated with entering data into the system) which are necessary to support the process changes in law enforcement so this database can be used to help law enforcement solve missing persons cases. God bless her and her missing son Billy.


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