How often is an AMBER Alert sent and how effective is that? | NOW

The police sent an AMBER Alert on Wednesday evening because a girl from the North Brabant village of Berghem has been missing since Friday evening. How does the AMBER Alert work, how often is it sent and is this detection method effective? Five questions about the alarm system.

Since when did the AMBER Alert system exist?

The system was originally created in 1996 in the United States. AMBER is therefore an acronym for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. The name was coined after nine-year-old Amber Hagerman from Texas was kidnapped and murdered.

The AMBER Alert has existed in the Netherlands since 2008 and originated from a collaboration between the software company Netpresenter and the National Police. The system now reaches millions of Dutch adults who can help out in the search.

How does the AMBER Alert work?

An AMBER Alert is distributed via SMS, social media, highway signs, advertising screens, email, TV and radio. Notifications also arrive in apps such as Facebook, 9292 and Google Waze.

To always receive the notifications, users must sign in. This can be done via the AMBER Alert ‘I am searching’ page. It is then possible to register via e-mail and text message.

AMBER Alert also has a mobile app with which the notifications are distributed. Missing Child Alerts are also sent with this app, which is much more common.

With a Missing Child Alert, the police suspect that there is no danger to life, unlike with the AMBER Alert. Nevertheless, the police are also “seriously concerned about the welfare of the child” in a Missing Child Alert.

How many people does an AMBER Alert reach?

AMBER Alert calls itself ‘the largest civil movement in the Netherlands’. In total, more than twelve million citizens and thousands of organizations are notified if a child is missing.

If a report is sent, it will reach 89 percent of all Dutch people aged eighteen and older, according to the organization. Misses are shared on Facebook, retweeted on Twitter and people see the message on TV, large screens, highway signs and advertising masts. The brand awareness of the system is 95 percent.

How often is the AMBER Alert sent?

The police asks on average twice a year to send an AMBER Alert for a kidnapped or missing child in mortal danger. A Missing Child Alert is sent out about twenty times a year. Of the more than a thousand times that the Alert system has been used in the past twelve years, 94 percent had a successful outcome.

What is the difference between AMBER Alert and NL-Alert?

These two emergency calls are sometimes confused, says a spokesperson for AMBER Alert when asked. To receive an AMBER Alert on your smartphone, someone must register.

An NL-Alert is sent on behalf of the government in the event of a disaster or emergency. You do not have to register for these messages: these reports are distributed via cell broadcasts to all smartphones in the affected area. These alarms are used for all kinds of situations, from a major fire to a dangerous sudden rip current in the sea.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *