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The Evolution of the AMBER Alerts via WEA

Since its inception, the AMBER Alert program helped recover nearly 700 abducted children. Thanks to WEA AMBER Alerts, these notices about abducted children who are in danger are being sent to even more people. Statistics show that the first three hours after an abduction are the most critical in recovery efforts, and being able to quickly engage the public in the search for an abducted child can help law enforcement bring that child home safely.

Here’s a look at how AMBER Alerts developed over the years:

  • 1996: Named for 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted while riding her bicycle, AMBER Alerts are issued through participating radio stations in an area. As the program spread from state to state, alerts are issued through television, radio and highway signs.
  • 2005: In an effort to expand the message through technology, the wireless industry worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to launch the Wireless AMBER Alerts program. More than 700,000 wireless customers enrolled in the Wireless Amber Alert system, which sent free text messages with the relevant information.
  • 2012: Wireless AMBER Alerts transitioned into the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) program, which sends out a text-like message that supersedes other applications to all WEA-capable phones in a geographically-targeted area.
  • February 2013: The first AMBER Alert under the WEA system goes out in Minneapolis, MN, leading to the recovery of an 8-month-old child.

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