This morning, we (CTIA-The Wireless Association®, The Wireless Foundation™, The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and Syniverse) announced the Wireless AMBER Alerts™ program will end operations effective December 31, 2012 and will transition to the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) program. Millions of cellphone users across the country will now receive free, automatic notifications about abducted children in their area as part of the WEA program.
CTIA and the wireless industry joined the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to offer WEA to supplement the existing Emergency Alert System. Consumers with WEA-capable smartphones and feature phones and services are automatically enrolled to receive AMBER Alerts for free, along with the Presidential and Imminent Threat Alerts
Unlike Wireless AMBER Alerts, the WEA AMBER Alerts use the latest technology to send messages to wireless customers with WEA-capable devices in the area where a child has been abducted, even if the wireless customer isn’t from the area.
For example, if a Chicago resident was visiting Boston and a WEA AMBER Alert was issued in Boston, the subscriber would receive the alert. At the same time, if an alert was issued in Chicago, the subscriber would not receive it while in Boston.
Before Wireless AMBER Alerts, AMBER Alerts were issued via television, radio and Department of Transportation highway signs when a child was believed to have been abducted and in extreme danger. The wireless industry launched the Wireless AMBER Alerts program in 2005 because its members believed its technology could expand the Alerts’ reach to aid in the recovery of abducted children.
The 700,000 wireless customers currently enrolled in Wireless AMBER Alerts will receive text messages about the transition and alternative sources for receiving AMBER Alerts. For more information about the alternative sources please visit http://www.missingkids.com/ambersignup/.