Google Users to Receive AMBER Alerts

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Users of Google Maps and Google Search can now see government alerts on their mobile phones or computers when a child goes missing in their locality.

AMBER Alerts, which notify the public about missing or abducted kids, are available on the Google Public Alerts platform as a result of a partnership announced Oct. 31 between Google and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The center is housed within the Office of Justice Programs in the U.S. Department of Justice.

“By increasing the availability of these alerts through our services, we hope that more people will assist in the search for children featured in AMBER Alerts and that the rates of safe recovery will rise,” explained a Google blog post about the partnership.

Google users will see available alerts when they search for a particular location on their maps or search applications. The alerts will update details of the case as they develop, such as information about the child and the type of vehicle that may have been involved in his or her disappearance, the Google blog post said. 

The more quickly authorities and the public mobilize to find a missing child, the higher the chances that he or she will be found unharmed, wrote Mary Lou Leary, the acting assistant attorney general, in her own blog post for the Office of Justice Programs. 

The AMBER Alert program is a partnership between the federal government, local law enforcement and transportation agencies, broadcast and wireless companies, and organizations like Yahoo!, Facebook and AOL.

The acronym stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response, but is also in recognition of Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl whose abduction and murder in Arlington, Texas, in 1996 drove the creation of the program.

Since the program’s inception, AMBER Alerts have helped 591 children return safely home, Leary said.