I make it a habit of not publicly blogging about work in fear of being dooced, but this is one of those things that a) couldn’t possibly get me in trouble; and b) really needs to cross the eyeballs of as many people as possible, to the point that even the few folks that read this really do help…
So anyways, the company that I work for recently finished up a big project that allows the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) to broadcast AMBER Alerts as text messages to wireless devices. For those who aren’t familiar with the program, the group works with local and state law enforcement agencies to help spread the word about missing and abducted children via various broadcast mediums. Text messaging is the latest method to be added to that array and in a race where every advantage could mean the life of one more child saved, hopefully it’s going to be a very beneficial addition to the program.
It’s a pretty simple program to setup – simply visit the website listed below and enter your wireless phone number. If your provider is participating in the program, you’ll be transferred to another website where you’ll setup the service. Following the on-screen instructions, you can select up to 5 zip codes that you want to monitor – if an alert is issued for any of your selected zip codes, you’ll receive a text message about it. From there you’ll likely get a confirmation text message based on your selections, and that’s it!
The service is completely free – the carriers involved are eating the costs of all text messages sent via the program, so there’s really no reason not to take a moment to register your own phone, not to mention tell all of your friends and neighbors to go do the same. Kind of like insurance or 9-1-1, it’s one of those services that you really hope you’ll never have to use, but it can make all the difference in the world when tragedy strikes. The entire sign-up process took me less than five minutes Friday afternoon – I hope everyone who reads this will do the same.