PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — “It takes a village” is an oft-used statement, and nowhere is it more apt than when a child or other loved one goes missing. In these situations, every second counts, and the more people involved in a search, the better.

Members of local communities can play a vital role in returning loved ones to their families. A new app launching Thursday from the Portland-area harnesses the power of communities and technology together, to create a new way to help find missing people quickly.

The app, named Q5id Guardian, is launching in Portland, before expanding to key cities in the West such as Seattle and Las Vegas, then nationally. Oregon has the third-highest rate in the United States of people who go missing, at 10.4 per 100,000 people.

The Guardian app works by building a verified community of volunteers who can help greatly expand the search for a missing person and send highly localized alerts using the technique of geofencing. A geofence is a virtual perimeter created and viewed online, which allows family members and community volunteers to focus on a key, well-defined area in searching for missing loved ones.

The app gets two types of users involved: Guardian volunteers and Guardian+ subscribers.

Guardian volunteers are local citizens who have downloaded the free app and opted in to receive alerts. When a person goes missing in their immediate area, they instantly receive a push notification to their mobile device, prompting them to join the search.

Notifications are only sent to those within a close radius of the geo-located alert, ensuring they can actually help when it matters. The app’s unique technology allows those who have joined the Guardian community to contact emergency services directly within the app if they locate a missing person.

Guardian+ subscribers can issue alerts for their loved ones the second they believe they are missing. Alerts are automatically tied to their phone’s location however users may instead choose to base the alert in a different area. For example, if a child was last seen at school, the alert can be based around the school, rather than the user’s current physical location.

Subscribers can create profiles for each of their loved ones, and the information will be attached to any alert issued on their behalf. To activate these features there is a $3.99 monthly subscription fee.