30 April 2013

Alert Annoyance

The other night we were awakened by alarms on our phones.  It was disorienting because it wasn't the alarm clock sound nor text alert noise.  It turns out that it was an Amber Alert that a child had been abducted in Montana but the car had Washington State plates.

My first thought was "REALLY? Who is able to be 'alert' at four in the morning?"  My second thought was "Well, there *are* people up and on the roads at this hour and what if they did see them?"

As we live near the Canadian border, I imagine we will get these texts from time-to-time but in this instance, we weren't near where the people were headed/lived.  (They were caught in Pierce County, three, almost four counties away = 150 + miles)

I felt a little selfish for being annoyed, as these texts do mean that a CHILD is MISSING.  But certainly, there has to be a better way.

This morning, an article talking about this very thing was in the local newspaper:

State Patrol officials concede that the timing of an Amber Alert text message sent to cell phones across Washington early Sunday wasn’t ideal, but the outcome was.  A 1-year-old boy whom authorities said was taken by his biological parents from his custodial grandparents’ Montana home Saturday night was found safe in Fife Sunday morning, and was scheduled to be retrieved by his grandmother from Child Protective Services Monday.

“We’ve gotten probably about a dozen or so emails or phone calls from people who are unhappy with the timing of (the text alert), and I’m sympathetic with those concerns,” State Patrol Lt. Ron Mead said. “It’s still emerging technology that is far from perfect.” That technology is the federal Wireless Emergency Alert system, which started sending Amber Alerts Jan. 1 in areas where authorities think a missing child might be. Sunday was the first time it’s been used in Washington for that purpose, Mead said.

Sending the new federal alerts is a joint effort between federal, state and local agencies, as well as wireless carriers.
When the State Patrol approves an Amber Alert in Washington, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children sends a statewide wireless alert.  Other states have guidelines for which hours of the day the text alerts can be sent, but Washington authorities haven’t yet set such a policy.

They will now, Mead said. “Erring on the side of having no guidance, (the national center) pushed the button,” Mead said. “We hope to have it in place that (future alerts) won’t be going out at 3:30 in the morning.”
The exact restraints are a work in progress, but Mead said a more likely time for messages would be around 6:30 a.m., he said.“The whole purpose of the alert is so we can get the public’s help, and when the vast majority of the public is fast asleep ... the last thing we want to do is give people incentive to opt out of it,” Mead said.

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2013/04/29/2988787/amber-alert-texts-wont-arrive.html#storylink=cpy

I guess it's a good thing in the long run.  The child was quickly found, crackhead parents are in jail (yea!) and we went back to sleep. 

Have you received these alerts?  Are they a hassle or a good idea?

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2013/04/29/2988787/amber-alert-texts-wont-arrive.html#storylink=cpy

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