How Technology is Transforming the Search for Missing Children

In 1977, a baby boy went missing from his home in Hawaii. He was later adopted from an orphanage—never knowing his real name or biological family. Over 30 years later, as a grown man, he recognized himself in a photo on, a website run by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

This amazing story is a rare case, but it demonstrates just how powerful technology can be in the search for missing children. Given the urgency of its mission, NCMEC embraces all available digital channels and tools to identify missing or exploited kids, spread awareness with the public, and raise money.

We’re proud to say NCMEC relies on Adobe for many mission-critical activities.

The power of the human face

That photo the man recognized on NCMEC’s forensic artists created it using age-progression and composite techniques in Adobe Photoshop CC. They’ve generated more than 6,500 of these images over the years. The forensic team also works with law enforcement to identify victims of exploitation and their captors in photos and video footage, which they enhance using Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Adobe Audition CC. NCMEC says it reviews an astounding 2 million files every month, helping to save kids from heartbreaking circumstances.

Building support for a good cause

NCMEC is telling children’s stories and giving people ways to help victims and their families through its website, which is powered by Adobe Experience Manager and Adobe Analytics on Microsoft Azure. By getting information out there quickly, presenting it more effectively, and giving people ways to get involved, the organization has boosted its website traffic by 47% and bumped up fundraising through the site by 40%.

Since it was founded in 1984, NCMEC has helped law enforcement recover 284,000 missing children. With its eagerness to explore new ways to use technology, the organization will continue saving many more.

Read more about NCMEC’s journey here.