Each year in Canada, there are more than 60,000 individuals reported missing. Yet each year, fewer than 50 unidentified human remains are discovered.
For the first time, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will leverage hyperspectral imaging technologies in an attempt to locate human remains.
The RCMP’s National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains is undertaking a Missing Persons Advanced Technology initiative. This initiative will utilize advancements in satellite and other technologies to detect places where remains, linked to missing person cases, may be partially buried or discarded, according to a recent statement.
The pilot began this week. Aircraft will cover multiple sites in British Columbia.
“The NCMPUR is committed to finding new and innovative ways to locate human remains, find missing persons, and bring much needed answers to families and communities,” stated Chief Superintendent Gordon Sage, Director General of Sensitive and Specialized Investigative Services.
Hyperspectral imaging processes information from the electromagnetic spectrum, capturing information beyond what is visible to the human eye. Controlled experiments in partnership with the National Research Council Canada showed this technology has the potential to better detect characteristics of decomposing bodies and shallow graves based on their affect on the vegetation and other effects in contrast to the surrounding area.
“With this new initiative, NCMPUR is taking the first step forward in exploring the potential of technologies, such as hyperspectral scanning and satellite technology, and the feasibility of offering additional services for other missing person investigations across Canada.”
In 2018, the RCMP created the National Missing Persons’ DNA Program, a collaboration between NCMPUR and the National DNA Databank. To date, the program has made 50 identifications.