Losing a child in a crowd of people in a shopping mall, and then seeing and hearing her screaming to get out of a car is every parent’s worst nightmare. Amber Alert? Perhaps too late. Smart phone alert? Not yet.
Sooke resident Thomas Okuszko had such a dream about losing his little girl — so did his wife.
The possibility of such a horrific event happening is a very real possibility and knowing this Okuszko put together an idea to alert people in the vicinity of where a child went missing. He developed an smart phone application which alerts everyone who needs to know that a child has gone missing.
“What if you could alert dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people in the immediate vicinity of a missing child — in a matter of seconds? asks Okuszko.
Enter the HERO, a mobile application that allows parents or guardians to securely keep a profile of their children, including pictures and vital statistics online and on their smart phones. In under 30 seconds, HERO allows any guardian to send an alert if their child goes missing. Everyone on the network (heroes) who are within 10 kms will receive the alert.
“A HERO is anyone who is willing to upload the application and is willing to take a text message or photo and send it directly back to a guardian of a child,” said Okuszko. “The whole point is to share a child’s profile with caregivers and a network empowering them to send an alert on my behalf. All I need to do is send a text message and I’m a hero.”
When an alert is sent in your area, you will receive a notification on your phone. You can switch between the alert details and a map displaying where the alert was sent from. If you have information or details pertaining to an alert, you can send a reply message that only the alert sender will see. On all Alert screens, you will also have the option to quickly dial 911.
He said during the alert updates can be sent describing what they are wearing,etc. It also shows you exactly where you are in relation to the parent.
“You are only alerted when you are relevant,” he said.
The application is free and available for the iPhone and any Android platform mobile device. No information is shared with any other companies.
Guardians pay a one time fee of less than $4 to maintain child profiles and send alerts. Heroes can upgrade to a Guardian level.
For now, the focus is to build a network.
“We are going to save a child this year,” he stated.
Okuszko comes from a finance background and moved to Sooke in 2007 to take advantage of the opportunities to sail, surf and balance his work and life. When he became a father his attention shifted to his family. He spent eight months conceptualizing the HERO system and then collaborated with a team to create the HERO application.
“It’s a Victoria company, a North American idea and a global purpose,” said Okuszko.
For more information go to: GetHeroApp.com.