What is WanderSearch

What is WanderSearch?

WanderSearch (also known as Wandatrak in some areas) provides individuals with a small radio frequency device that can be found by using specialised equipment (receiver units and aerials). Only Police, LandSAR volunteers and WanderSearch Group volunteers are trained in using the search equipment. If a person goes missing who has the device with them and the Police are called, they can be found much faster. The system is one of a number of technologies that supports the Safer Walking Framework in New Zealand as it applies to people with cognitive impairment who have a risk of going missing.

Man wearing a wander search radio frequency device in the form of a pendant. Photo, NZ police
Person wearing their Wander Search device (pendant). (Photo NZ Police)

The WanderSearch programme works in New Zealand as we have an extensive network of LandSAR volunteer groups who undertake searches for the lost, missing or injured. In most areas there are some members of the group that have specific training in the WanderSearch system and in some areas also manage the programme including issuing and maintenance of the devices. Furthermore there is a formal agreement between the Police and Land Search and Rescue to provide search volunteers to assist the Police when required. The same applies to some of the WanderSearch Charitable Trusts.

Police working with a LandSAR volunteer in Wellington using wander search equipment to locate a missing person who is wearing a Wander Search device.
NZ Police and LandSAR work together to find a missing person. (Photo, NZ Police)

The Police are always the authority that receive calls (emergency call 111) about missing people. They are the incident controllers and make the decisions about how a search will be conducted, and what other groups are called in to assist in the search. How a search is conducted and who is involved depends on a number of things and can vary region to region, in some areas it is Police personnel only, in others LandSAR volunteers. When a person is issued with a WanderSearch device their information along with the frequency of their device is provided to the Police. In this way, when a report is made about a missing person who has a device the police database will alert the Police personnel to the fact and give them the frequency number. A search usually is very quick depending on the distance the searchers have to travel initially to the last know location for the missing person.