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What is an AMBER Alert?

America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER), is an alert system used by law enforcement to notify local broadcasters and transportation services in the area where a child has gone missing.

Why was AMBER Alert created?

Created in 1996, in honor of Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl who went missing in Arlington, Texas. At the time of Amber’s abduction, there was nothing more than local law enforcement and news coverage in place to help in the search. Unfortunately, only one witness had any information and by the time they found her, several days later, only 4 miles from her home, it was too late.

A woman named Diana Simone saw Amber’s story on the news. In her TEDx Talk, she states, “Here I was, as a parent, watching every parent’s worst nightmare unfold in front of my very eyes.” Astonished by how a child could be abducted in broad daylight and remain within the vicinity of her home for days, without anyone seeing anything, she knew she had to do something.

Her question was, “We spend so much of our time disconnected…how could we bridge that gap and connect and inform people?” Even with a lack of initial support, Diana pushed forward to solve her question. One call to a local radio station asking if they would get involved and the AMBER Alert system was born. Only 9 months later the Federal Communications Commission agreed with the alert system idea, and between local media outlets and law enforcement offices working together, the first AMBER Alert was broadcasted in the Dallas Fort Worth community.

Later, in 2003, George W. Bush signed the PROTECT Act into law, making AMBER Alert a national program.

What are the pros?

AMBER Alerts are projected across most local media platforms including television, radio, digital billboards, internet browsers, and mobile devices. This helps them have an incredibly wide reach for those in the surrounding area.

These alerts can also be extended to a different jurisdiction if the child is thought to have crossed state lines.

In addition to the United States, 33 other countries also use the AMBER Alert system.

What are the cons?

AMBER Alerts are only issued when the situation is considered life-threatening. This can take hours or even days, at which point it might be too late.

In 2020, 365,348 children were reported missing to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Of all reported missing children, only 200 AMBER Alerts were issued, and a mere 46 children were returned home safely.

While rescuing any missing child is great, what about the other 365,302 children?

How is Q5id Guardian different?

Q5id Guardian is how as a community, together we can help bring those other 365,302 children home safely. Similar to AMBER Alerts, the Q5id Guardian app will serve as an immediate alert system within communities.

Time is of the utmost importance when a child goes missing, and unlike AMBER Alerts, a Guardian alert can be issued at the tap of a button, the minute a child is thought to be missing. The alert is broadcast on the app to volunteer Guardians within the immediate area.

Volunteer Guardians will receive alerts via push notifications of missing children within their immediate area. Once the alert is received, they can view the key information the family has supplied on the member profile and aid in the search.

The app’s technology allows volunteer Guardians to anonymously call or text the family with any updates or information directly through the app. This protects both the identity of the volunteer Guardians and the families.

Family members can create a profile for their children or other vulnerable loved ones in the app. They can add photographs, basic physical traits like height, weight, hair color, and any other key information that can help volunteer Guardians, such as if someone is shy, or has special needs.

The app blends both families with children and community members to create a strong, unified space where like-minded individuals, who want to keep children safe, can come together.

While the AMBER Alert system is a wonderful initial solution, let’s take it one step further and prevent a missing child from ever needing an AMBER Alert in the first place.