New search and rescue technology helps find missing people faster

Bill Bolton with his dog helping to find missing people in the water. Ambassador for AquaEye. (Courtesy of VodaSafe.)

Bill Bolton with his dog helping to find missing people in the water. Ambassador for AquaEye. (Courtesy of VodaSafe.)

A new technology from Vancouver is helping to find missing people underwater faster and supporting search and rescue teams around the world.

The technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) and ultrasound to identify human bodies that may be trapped underwater and can reduce search time from days to hours.

Bill Bolton, an experienced advanced tactical search and rescue instructor, was on the Mike Farwell Show on June 13 to talk about the new technology called AquaEye.

“This is really a game changer. While it's not the only tool I use, it's certainly the first one I jump on and get out of a vehicle before I do anything else,” Bolton said.

“This allows us to scan a body of water that could actually be up to one hectare in area in about a minute.”

The portable sonar device also allows for easier transport, so nothing needs to be set up on a boat.

“It didn’t take long for me to realize that this is definitely a tool that can save a lot of time and worry and allow us to move on to the next steps more quickly,” Bolton said.

Search times for rescue teams can range from hours, days to weeks, but with this device, that time can be shortened and families searching for a missing person can quickly find closure.

AquaEye is owned and distributed by a company called VodaSafe, and the company's website says it can reduce search time by 87 percent.

This will help police departments like those in Waterloo Region close cases faster and spend less time searching.

“You stand on the bank, put it in the water, press the button, let it glide across the water and then it basically sends out a signal. And if there's a body there, it picks it up and marks it on the screen with an x ​​or a zero to indicate that these are areas that need to be searched,” Bolton said.

Divers are then sent out to search the area where the body was found.

Bolton said her biggest goal is to help families graduate, which new technology will allow them to do in a shorter amount of time.

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