Last week, over the course of several days, millions of cellphones across the Western United States buzzed like fire alarms — loudly and, to some, annoyingly — as authorities sent out an Amber Alert that appeared as a text requesting everyone to be on the lookout for a blue Nissan Versa from southeastern San Diego County.
No matter what they were doing or the hour they were doing it, everyone in California, Nevada, Washington state, Oregon and Idaho who owns a cellphone with the capacity to receive emergency messages got one about the car driven by the suspected kidnapper of 16-year-old
And yet it worked. The breadth of the alert and the novel use of cellphone messaging to get it out kept the missing girl and her alleged kidnapper,
"This Amber Alert, while it's a minor inconvenience to people, literally saved the life of this child," said Robert Hoever, director of special programs at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. So authorities made the right call when they decided to use what's known as cell broadcasting to transmit the Amber Alert message. There are some kinks to be worked out. Some people got the buzzing message multiple times. That shouldn't happen.