"Amber alerts on our smartphones are starting to become all too frequent, and like most things, they are burdened with a certain degree of Feature Creep. Not just for abducted children anymore, the Alert system in US carrier sold phones can carry Presidential Alerts, Imminent Threat Alerts (weather or forest fires mostly) and the original AMBER alert for missing children.
Its not clear the President is ever going to have a single message for the entire population, where that message will make any difference to the average citizen. But then, this category is seldom abused. Weather broadcasts are invariably too late, historically too widely distributed, and often simply redundant. And Amber Alerts are, in the majority of cases, custody disputes, where the child is never in any real danger.
Amber Alerts are quickly becoming viewed as security theater, and the most abused aspect of the entire system. This has increasing numbers of people opting out of the alerts on their phones as a result.
The Amber system is the "third rail" of child safety discussions, and few agencies are willing to address its failings. Do we need additional shades of Amber, or the ability to filter custody disputes from the system?"
(Score: 5, Interesting) by hybristic on Tuesday March 11 2014, @03:30PM
When I worked at a gas station, Amber Alerts would pop up on the lotto machine that printed the tickets. I always thought that was really smart, as its a likely pit stop for anyone. We would then print an alert and hand them out to customers. Other than that, I have never seen an Amber Alert that was actually close enough to me that made me feel like I could help. The last one sent to my phone was around 6 hours away from me. So yeah I could see how they might not be as effective as we would like them to be.