There have been several times when I have been with a group of people, and we've all had a text message delivered at the same time. Upon checking, it is discovered that we have all received a local amber alert about a recent incident, complete with pictures of the missing child or children, who they were last seen with, potential suspect descriptions and details of the vehicle that authorities are looking for.
According to an article from the Los Angeles Times, this is known as the Wireless Emergency Alert program, available on all mobile phones. It is an automatic feature in new phones, where devices receive the notification based on their proximity to the emergency and not on their phone numbers. This replaces the previous "opt-in" system.
"The signal is transmitted simultaneously to all mobile devices within the range of cell towers in the affected area," the article reads. "Authorities also broadcast the alerts multiple times, to account for the movement of people in and out of these zones."
This does mean that if you happen to be moving between cell towers, which is used to determine who will receive the alert, there is a chance that the message could be delivered more than once.
Considering the fact that more people have mobile phones than ever before and amber alerts are extremely time-sensitive, it only makes sense that a text message would be the smartest way to reach the most amount of people in the shortest amount of time. With the help of an SMS service, any organization can follow this path and start using text alerts to spread its message.