As I was working at my desk Wednesday afternoon, my phone started making a noise it had never made before, and I heard at least one other phone in the office go off at the same time as mine.
Within seconds we discovered that what we were experiencing was an "AMBER Alert" in regards to a young boy who had been abducted in Minneapolis.
Many people are no strangers to this sort of system. When I attended college at North Dakota State University, the school would send test alerts to our cell phones to prepare us for possible emergency situations. I can only recall a couple legitimate alerts that went out, and they involved a standoff that took place in downtown Fargo and dangerous flood conditions in the F-M area.
This cell phone alert system is a step up from the face-on-a-milk-carton system in that it reaches a larger audience quicker. However, faces of missing children are still printed in areas that consumers visit often. I recently visited a grocery store where the grocery bags featured the face of a missing individual.
But everyone carries around cell phones these days, and that's why the newer types of alerts are so effective. It also catches your attention when your phone makes a noise you've never heard before.
It's no secret that time and time again the public has proven to be essential in helping authorities solve cases, such as that of a missing child. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have certainly helped, and now numerous individuals can receive a request on their phone to stay on the lookout for an individual in need of help.
But then there is the bitter reality that hits when you receive one of these alerts; you realize that some poor kid has been taken, and you pray that someone will be able to provide information that will lead to a safe return home.
However, it is comforting to think of all the ways this type of alert system can prove helpful in our society. When there is someone who poses a threat, such as a shooter near a school, a cell-phone alert could mean the difference between making it to safety and being left exposed to danger.
My hope is that these alerts will become more popular throughout the U.S. I would definitely back a plan to maintain such an emergency communication structure in area schools and businesses.
People deserve to be warned before danger arrives, and the innocent who are already in danger deserve help from those around them.