A Novel Image‐based Tool to Reunite Children With Their Families After Disasters
Reuniting children with their families after a disaster poses unique challenges. The objective was to pilot test the ability of a novel image‐based tool to assist a parent in identifying a picture of his or her children.
A previously developed image‐based indexing and retrieval tool that employs two advanced vision search algorithms was used. One algorithm, Feature‐Attribute‐Matching, extracts facial features (skin color, eye color, and age) of a photograph and then matches according to parental input. The other algorithm, User‐Feedback, allows parents to choose children on the screen that appear similar to theirs and then reprioritizes the images in the database. This was piloted in a convenience sample of parent–child pairs in a pediatric tertiary care hospital. A photograph of each participating child was added to a preexisting image database. A double‐blind randomized crossover trial was performed to measure the percentage of database reviewed and time using the Feature‐Attribute‐Matching‐plus‐User‐Feedback strategy or User‐Feedback strategy only. Search results were compared to a theoretical random search. Afterward, parents completed a survey evaluating satisfaction.
Fifty‐one parent–child pairs completed the study. The Feature‐Attribute‐Matching‐plus‐User‐Feedback strategy was superior to the User‐Feedback strategy in decreasing the percentage of database reviewed (mean ± SD = 24.1 ± 20.1% vs. 35.6 ± 27.2%; mean difference = −11.5%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = −21.5% to −1.4%; p = 0.03). Both were superior to the random search (p < 0.001). Time for both searches was similar despite fewer images reviewed in the Feature‐Attribute‐Matching‐plus‐User‐Feedback strategy. Sixty‐eight percent of parents were satisfied with the search and 87% felt that this tool would be very or extremely helpful in a disaster.
This novel image‐based reunification system reduced the number of images reviewed before parents identified their children. This technology could be further developed to assist future family reunifications in a disaster.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2012-11-01