When a child goes missing or is abducted, AMBER Alerts are used to obtain assistance from the public in finding them. While traditional methods such as public announcements and roadside signs have worked in the past, mobile technology has increased the effectiveness of this system tenfold.
Many text alert programs require recipient participation. They have to willingly sign up to receive messages pertaining to weather or their favorite sports team's final score. That's not the case with AMBER Alerts. Because no one knows if and when an alert will happen by them, a new system set to launch across the United States will tap into a database of all cell phone numbers and send SMS messages to every user once a child is lost.
This program is available through the National Wireless Emergency Alert System, which New York recently became a part of. According to a report from WKTV, upstate New York's local NBC affiliate, the state went live on the system at the end of last year. Donald Smith, who represents the New York State Sheriffs Association on the AMBER Alert Committee, spoke with the source about the effectiveness of the program and how the organization has evolved with its AMBER services over the years.
"After each activation of an AMBER Alert in New York State, we conduct a thorough after action review to determine the lessons learned from each experience," Smith said. "An overarching theme for each one is the importance of the public's participation in helping law enforcement recover an abducted child. Adding New York alert notifications and input to our toolbox will vastly improve an already successful AMBER Alert Program."
Emergency texts are an excellent way to manage AMBER Alerts because they will reach a large number of people scattered throughout an area. This drastically increases the chances of a child being found and brought to safety.