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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wireless Emergency Alerts & Using Today's Technology to Save a Child's Life

In August of 2013, Californians were awoken by an AMBER Alert broadcasted on their smartphones as it was accompanied by an unmistakable loud noise. While many were upset that their phones were utilized in this first ever mobile device broadcast since its upgrade in 2012, others found solace in the prospects of what this could mean for future abductions. Instead of the upset individuals involving themselves with issues concerning private property, they should be celebratory that a service such as this one exists. How does this technology impact a user’s ability to help rescue a lost child?

Subscribers - Since 2005, people have been given the option to accept AMBER Alerts on their mobile devices which allowed them to dictate what areas these alerts pertained to through the Wireless AMBER Alert program. As a paltry number of subscribers opted-in to the service, the FEMA operated Wireless Emergency Alert program incorporated the AMBER Alerts into its plan and functionality. This means that users were unable to opt-out if they don't want the responsibility of being a social-conscious person. Only 700,000 people subscribed to the service prior to the integration by FEMA - which is incredibly low when you consider that there are almost 1,000,000 in the city of San Jose, CA alone.

Geographically Speaking - Wireless Emergency Alerts are targeted at the cell towers of where the emergency is taking place. Connections to these cell towers then receive the Amber Alerts accordingly. This is why Californians received the alert and Utahans didn't. This is unlike traditional methods of displaying AMBER Alerts using apps or sign-up distribution that are designed to gather information from websites or cover one pre-designated region. These approaches are rather generalized given the nature of the information.

Wider Coverage - Perhaps you've seen the LED displays above highways alerting drivers of a kidnapping and the vehicle to watch out for. While this helps those on the highway stay mindful of what to look for, it does nothing for the gas station attendant who is authorizing a gas pump of the vehicle he should be watching for while playing Angry Birds. Since there are more than 91 million smartphones in the United States alone, this provides a wide coverage area, based on geographical location pertaining to the alert, in order to enlighten anyone who has one of these devices on them.

In Their Shoes... Take a long look at your child. Consider how you would feel if he or she wasn't on the bus after school one day. Would it be maddening to you? Wouldn't you want someone to help you? It's one thing to think about what you would do if that situation were to happen, but no one truly knows how far into desperation they will plummet if his or her child were simply gone. Wouldn't you want someone to point out where your child is thanks to a quick message on a smartphone? Or would you rather wait in anticipation that your child will be found by authorities hoping he or she is still breathing? It's such a small inconvenience to help reunite a missing loved one before the unthinkable could happen.

Many lives can be saved every day if people were more mindful of the society they live in. Too many believe that such a situation couldn't happen to them until it does. The fear of losing a child can stress a parent beyond tolerable levels. The next time you disregard an AMBER Alert, take a look at your child and consider yourself blessed. Does it really put you out of your way to accept a message that a child is missing?

Author Bio:
Sara Dawkins is an active nanny as well as an active freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor of nannypro.com.  Learn more about Sara Dawkins.
Edited by Anthony Gonzalez for Child Quest International

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