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Missing Person - Tracy Williams, Technorati Employee (technorati.com)
525 points by sbisker on Nov 6, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 56 comments

Technorati people, in case you are reading this, it might help to post more than one photo of her. Sometimes, it is hard to remember or recognize faces, when you have only seen one photo.

I hope everything turns out all right.

And post different angles if possible (front, profile, etc). It matters.

I saw this on Twitter and thought perhaps HN could help get the word out, particularly around downtown San Francisco where she was last seen. My thoughts and prayers go out to her, her family and her colleagues.

"Tracy was last seen at 7:45pm PDT on Wednesday evening at the Whitehorse Bar located in San Francisco." <-- does the bar have a security camera, and if so has anyone reviewed the footage from that night?

"After leaving the bar, we believe Tracy texted a friend to let him know she was going home." <-- Has anyone asked her friends if she sent them a text message that night?

(these should be obvious, but there was no indication, from what I've read, that these avenues were explored)

> these should be obvious, but there was no indication

I would assume the latter (txt msg) refers to the possibility that the text message was not sent by her but sent by someone whom has been involved in her disappearance. There was a text message from her phone to a friend, but they don't know if she actually sent it. That's my assumption about what it means anyway.

> but there was no indication

The post mentions: "here is the information we can share". I am guessing they whetted it out with the police and deliberately didn't mention the security cameras and other specifics.

Tracy Williams WAS FOUND:

"November 7, 2011 at 9:15am PDT - We are relieved to share that Tracy Williams is indeed alive and safe at a local hospital. We want to thank everyone who helped spread the word about Tracy's disappearance."

Source: http://technorati.com/women/article/missing-person-tracy-wil...

How can it take 3 days to find someone at a hospital? I mean, obviously it can, but still, this seems to be an inordinate amount of time to find someone.

You can't just go calling hospitals asking if a certain person has been admitted. That's actually confidential information, and they won't just give that out.

But after filing a missing persons report with the police, it seems that the police would be able to quickly find out if they were in an area hospital and contact the next of kin/emergency contact, this should take less than 3 days.

Does a product exist combining a panic button with a gps (or mobile location) that links to police, ambulance or fire. 1 click police, 2 clicks ambulance, 3 clicks fire... sort of thing?

Dial 911 from virtually any cell phone and hang up. No need to say anything.

PS. 112 in Europe.

(edit) I meant to say that American 911 is European 112. I don't know if the police in European countries is supposed to react to dropped 112 calls or not. In Canada and in the US it is. A friend of mine saw it in action. He saw something, dialed, realized it wasn't a big deal, hung up, walked away 100 m, then, boom - not 2 minutes later a fire truck and a police car exactly where he called from. Their precision was really freaky.

FYI, 112 will actually work on /any/ GSM phone, no matter where you are (provided there's GSM reception in your area, naturally). It's part of the GSM standard; 112 is supposed to redirect to whatever your local emergency line is.

Even more so, 112 is the only number you can dial on a GSM while the keypad is locked.

I'm not sure how it works on all European countries but at least on my home country if you do call 112 and hang up nothing is going to happen. If you call 112 and say something and the call gets cut for some reason nothing is going to happen either...

in my home country you're lucky if they pick up the phone before you bleed out.

the thing is, 'europe' is a true overgeneralization, every country has different qualities of handling 112 emergency calls.

German anecdote: A few years ago my 2yr old son seems to have dialed 112 by accident. We learned about this a minute later when the fire department called back to check if we needed help.

When my kid was three or four, I called the sheriff's business number, asked to talk to the 911 office, and asked them if I could have my son dial 911 and talk to them, for training (his). They checked if they were busy, then said OK.

It puffed up his chest a bit, but we talked about emergencies, how to get help, why we don't call 911 unless it's an emergency, etc.

I suppose if everyone did it they wouldn't be agreeable, but no one does, so you should too. :)

> PS. 112 in Europe.

This explains. My old phone with a physical keyboard would allow me to dial 112 even when it was locked.

It's part of the GSM spec to always allow a 112 call - even with no SIM or no account for the phone.

It's a bit of a problem in some countries - you get a lot of 'butt dialed' 112 calls - and the protocol in many jurisdictions if you have an emergency call and no voice is to assume the worst and send fire+police+medics

911 Operator here, most cities won't follow up a 911 hangup call from a cellphone unless there is reason to think there is an emergency. In large cities, you get hundreds of accidental 911 calls a day and finding all of the phones (even if they are WPH2) would take more than the entire police department only looking for 911 hangup calls. In many cities, a 911 call from a land line will automatically dispatch PD to the address.

Following the advice above is very dangerous.

If you can dial 911, don't just hang up, the response to that will vary from one place to another, even from one dispatcher to another. You need to find some way to make clear you're in trouble.

Echo this, recently a friend had an epileptic seizure in Switzerland and they not only wouldn't come right away, they made me very carefully justify why I thought they should come. It's my new rule not to assume this...

Good for them. Epileptic seizures aren't usually life-threatening.

Sorry-we had no idea of that not being professionals and she was blue and seemed not to be breathing. It turned out to be OK after the fact but at the time....

No. They can be. The probability is low, but during the Epilepsy the patient can injure himself.

Quite true. There are all sorts of pointy and/or hard things around that you don't notice until someone is having a seizure.

Yeah, probably better to just stay on the line, even if you have to keep your phone in your pocket or bag or whatever.

Two apps Circle of 6 and On Watch just won a government challenge put forth by VP Biden. The apps will be available in January, On Watch is similar to this product http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/11/02/announcing-winners... (FD: I'm the developer of Circle of 6)

Check out Guardly. I think they are doing something interesting this space: https://www.guardly.com/

Life360 (www.life360.com) has such a feature. It is essentially a safety app so families or groups of friends can keep tabs on each other.

Full disclosure: I interned with them a few years ago when they were a startup out of Berkeley. Looks like they've grown a lot since then.

I believe http://wisedameapp.com/ is intended to do something like this.

http://safekidzone.com/ being tested in california iirc

Actually, I was thinking that the whole network of users could be alerted, so people nearby, not just a call-center or 911. As usual, the issue is who to trust and not to trust from the userbase, but it's a problem worth solving - the equivalent of someone screaming for help.

in the UK they recommend that if you need help, you actually shout fire. Sadly in big cities people will 'put their heads down' and walk past muggings. The idea is that if you shout fire, then all those individuals are also at risk, and therefore come to help.

Has anyone checked the local hospitals already?

Tracy could have left the bar like her co-workers assumed, only to have some sort of medical emergency (heart attack? Seizure? Hit by a car?).

We have notified the San Francisco Police department and hospital checks are being conducted.

Thanks! I either missed that or it was an update to the post.

When walking around alone in SF, I'm actually irrationally afraid of getting hit by a car and nobody knowing what happened to me. So yeah, if this is what happened that would be terrible and one of my worst nightmares come true.

Well, there are fall detectors out there, both as hardware devices as well as smartphone apps, which can send an SMS automatically in such cases. Of course, they have to be installed a priori.

If someone could get her to leave with them without her making a fuss, I'd suspect someone she already knows. Assuming she did leave with someone.

Yes, most crimes like this are committed by people the victim knows. :(

Crimes like what?

This is beyond scope..

..or to put it more bluntly: this is not appropriate for HN.

Fair call. I intended to say the same thing with my comment, but I should have been clearer (rather than appearing to encourage a flame war). Sorry 'bout that.

The FBI should use Facebook and RSS to crowdsource manhunts. California has "Amber Alerts" for abducted children that are announced on TV, radio, and highway signs. But the FBI might be able to get more eyeballs Facebook and RSS feeds announcing with photos of missing people or wanted criminals. They could have national, state, and local feeds so people can choose fewer but closer announcements.

I literally thought about building a Facebook app like this not more than an hour ago. This is definitely something that should be built, I wonder how difficult it would be to get the data out of the police departments...

Seeing as facebook can now recognise faces and auto tag those in uploaded photos, I wonder if that could be put to use to have a report/help dialogue pop up (verifying information like location/date) if someone who was reported missing appears in a new photograph.

There was something similar I was thinking about, Amber Alerts are generally set for a certain area, cell carriers in that area could be notified and send out a free MMS that contains name, license plate info, car make and model and stuff like that to a specific area thereby alerting everyone in a specific area as to what is happening.

This should allow people to be more vigilant and people are more likely to be paying attention to incoming messages on their phones than on FB whereby I have to be logged in first.

Assuming that she has a smartphone, has anyone checked to see her last known gps position?

Usually the cops are on that sort of thing. I hope. But it might be worth checking Google Latitude, MobileMe, Loopt and the like; if she used any of those indirect passive GPS services.

I believe there were major issues getting & sharing information regarding cell tower pings when James Kim's family went missing a few years back. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Kim

This doesn't sound good. :-(

Why the quotes on "smoke"?

I hope she is ok and has just gone walkabout. Even then, a courtesy "I'm ok" call goes a hell of a long way.

Wow, technorati is still around? That's news.

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