Cellphone Alert System to Become More Robust

The alerts have their roots in North Texas, where the AMBER Alerts began in 1996 after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted and killed.


The Wireless Emergency Alerts system will get more robust after the Federal Communications Commission voted recently to strengthen the system that sends such things as AMBER Alerts and notices of natural disasters across cellphones.

The Dallas Business Journal reported that government officials now can include up to 360 characters in their alerts. That’s up from 90 characters previously.

Also, the Journal reported that the new rules require carriers to support embedded phone numbers and links, which is a major step forward in the alerts’ usefulness. Current alerts often simply refer people to consult with their local media for additional details.

In the future, officials are looking at allowing photos to be included in the alerts.

The cellphone alerts, which will available in English and Spanish, will be delivered specifically to the area affected by the alert.

The nationwide system of alerts has its roots in North Texas.

AMBER Alerts, which is an acronym for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response, began after 9-year-old Arlington resident Amber Hagerman was abducted and killed in 1996.

Local broadcasters and law enforcement officials came up the system to alert DFW area residents more quickly when a child went missing.

In 2002, the FCC officially endorsed use of AMBER Alerts nationwide.

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