Throwback Thursday - Amber Alert

Published: May. 30, 2023 at 3:15 PM EDT
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The advent of the cell phone brought with it countless conveniences and opened the doors to innovations that stretched far beyond simple communication. One such innovation was the ability to quickly spread urgent alerts, including Amber Alerts, directly to mobile phones. NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard revisits a turning point in this technology’s history in this week’s Throwback Thursday.

When we hear the sound of a notification on our phones today, it’s usually a message from a friend or an update from a social media app. But back in 2005, a beep on your cell phone could have meant the difference between a child lost and a child found. In this week’s Throwback Thursday, we dial the time machine back to 2005 where WAGM reporter Dick Palm explains this revolutionary integration of technology and public safety.

Unicel, US Cellular, and seven other wireless carriers have joined forces with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to enable some 180 million cell phone users to assist law enforcement in the search for abducted children. Cellular customers can now opt to receive amber alerts on their phones.

“They will receive it via a text message through their cellular phone. If they have a cellular phone that is a digital handset, which would be a handheld phone that can receive text messages, and most people are aware of text messages, it comes in like an email.” says Kathy Wilson – Unicel Store Manager

Wilson says about 90 percent of Unicel’s customers will be able to receive the amber alerts.

“But the customer has to sign up for them”

Wilson says for the Unicel subscribers to receive the alerts all they have to do is go online.

“You will be able to sign up on our website, and you will receive a text message based on your zip code if there is a child reported missing.”

Wilson says the zip code will allow the customer to only receive alerts from their particular region.

“Yes, as soon as a child is reported missing in their area, they will be sending out the alerts to the customers that have signed up for the service, letting them know the description of the child.”

According to Wilson, her subscribers won’t have to pay any additional charges to receive the alerts.

“No, because all incoming text messages are free. Other wireless carriers, depending upon the carrier, there would be a charge”

Dick Palm, NewsSource8