Amber Alert aided by modern technology

BALTIMORE - The reaction was almost immediate; per the original design the Amber Alert for Caitlyn Virts was pushed out by the media and displayed on highway signs along major roadways.

It is a process that was started by Baltimore County, but a message confirmed and pushed out by Maryland State Police.

"We have the commercial billboards, we have state highway administration, we have the media, we have other things.  However we can get the information out as quickly as possible, that is what we are intent on doing," said MSP Sgt. Marc Black.

State police is the agency in the Maryland that activates an Amber Alert if it meets the criteria of a child abducted, feared in danger and local police have enough descriptive information about a vehicle.

Since 2003, Maryland has had 34 activations and recovered 33 children, great odds made even better with the technology of a decade later.

"All at once our phones light up with the amber alert.  So it was definitely noteworthy."

Adam Rosenberg, the Executive Director of the Baltimore Child Abuse Center is talking about the very audible and visible alert on his cell phone.

About a year ago, cell phone carriers made Amber Alerts an opt-out option rather than an opt-in; meaning the default in your mobile device’s settings is notify you of the missing child.

From there the alert exploded on social media with retweets and shares followed by prominent displays on commercial digital billboards; today’s technology only serving to double down on a near 20 year old alert system.

"The amber alert is a trending topic on twitter right now so people are using it to appropriately share the right information so we can hopefully locate this child," said Rosenberg.   

For more information on the Amber Alert -- how it has evolved and the value to its service, click here

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