Amber Alerts Go Wireless
To help locate missing children, the American public can now receive Amber Alerts wirelessly in two ways — via a partnership called Wireless Amber Alerts and from the Amber Alert Portal operated by law enforcement. In May 2005, the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) teamed up with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to launch Wireless Amber Alerts, a nationwide program under which text messages are sent to citizens’ cell phones. Under the systems, the NCMEC gets alerts from law enforcement and reformats and send the data to Syniverse Technologies. The firm then relays the data to participating wireless carriers like Verizon and Cingular, which then send the alerts to customers who have signed up to receive them. Another tool called the Amber Alert Portal is used by law enforcement to send alerts directly to all pertinent parties including radio, TV, fax machines, email, electronic road signs, and cell phone users, says Todd Sander, COO of the Amber Alert Portal.. Six states — Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, and Missouri — currently use the Amber Alert Portal as their main alerting system, and four other states are expected to join soon. Sanders believes it is important that law enforcement retains control over the data that gets distributed. Jeff DeVere, a Washington State Police captain and chairman of the Amber Alert Portal Consortium, says states with both systems should use the portal for distributing alerts to ancillary systems like the Wireless Amber Alerts.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Government Technology (09/05) P. 6; Watkins, Sherry .