Web Site Launches Mobile 'Amber' Alerts
The new system's Web site, amberalert911.org, sends Amber alerts to mobile phones and other wireless devices, pagers, and e-mail addresses of anyone who registers for the free service. The site also sends the notices to state agencies and other law enforcement personal, getting the information out faster than the original alert system, which relied on the older Emergency Broadcast System.
AmberAlert911 founder and CEO Chris Warner also is launching a campaign designed to encourage people to sign up for Amber alerts, which relay information about child abductions, such as descriptions of the victim and suspect. The Amber Alert program began in 1997 following the abduction and murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman. AmberAlert911, which was launched in July 2004, is operated by the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based nonprofit Engaging and Empowering Citizenship.
To promote the service, the National Alliance of State Broadcaster Associations will run public service announcements on their radio and television systems soliciting people to sign up for the alerts. Those spots will be customized to direct interested parties to the individual broadcaster's Web sites, said Warner.
The ads feature celebrities calling for people to sign up to receive the alerts, and warning abductors that if they kidnap a child, "we'll be looking for you." The aim, Warner says, is to have so many people signed up to receive the Amber alerts via mobile devices that abducting a child becomes unthinkable. "Success in our mind is not having any Amber alerts at all," said Warner.
In addition to the deal with radio and television affiliates, the Amber Web portal has also amassed a collection of corporate sponsors, including Symantec, Chevy, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Wirehound, and Limelight Networks. The logos of top corporate partners will appear in the ads, and most are also on the Amber alert Web site.
In addition to getting exposure on those spots, sponsors like Chevy have been holding events at their offices and dealerships to promote the Amber Web portal, and to bring customers to their locations. At one Arizona Chevy dealership, Warner said, local law enforcement officials met with concerned parents, who had their child's data--a picture, fingerprints, and a DNA sample--recorded on a special USB hard drive, and then erased from law enforcement records, to protect privacy. That data could then be given to officers in the event of a kidnapping, to speed the process of issuing an Amber alert.
"The Amber alert program allows corporations to really reach down into a neighborhood," said Warner. "Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, that company is working to save kids."
At this time, the Amber Web portal system is only live in five states--Washington, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, and Missouri. According to Warner, Rhode Island is next to come on board, within the next week, but the Amber Web portal hopes to get the system active in all 50 states within six months.