Amber Alert to smart phones startles many

Amber Alert to smart phones startles many

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by KGW reporter Pat Dooris

KTVB.COM

Posted on August 9, 2013 at 10:22 AM

PORTLAND -- If you were surprised by the Amber Alert hitting your phone, you are not alone. It’s the first time new technology was used to alert so many people in Oregon.

Last year at the end of December, the federal government finished work on computer network systems that allows FEMA to send Amber Alerts to any cell tower in America.

Anyone with a newer phone will get the message complete with its alarming ring tone that is similar to the one you hear on TV or radio from the Emergency Broadcast System.

You can opt out but police hope you won’t.

“Everyone has a cell phone anymore. And if we can get the message to everybody about this alert then we have hundreds of thousands of eyes just in the Portland area looking for this car,” said Portland Police Bureau technology project leader Garrett Dow.

The system is so new that some in Portland and elsewhere didn’t know what to do when the alert was sent to their phone Wednesday evening.

“I’m not from Portland, so I just wasn’t quite sure what I was getting, so I just deleted it,” said one woman Thursday.

For a startling moment Wednesday, many were unsure what was wrong.

“It caught my attention. It’s a sound you are looking for cause it’s not something that’s on my phone. I’m like what is that? Is it the school is somebody outside?” Alexandria Davis said.

It caught the attention of many.

“I don’t know, I never had one before. It was a little bit scary. I definitely remember driving home and I could see it on the teleprompter on the freeway and I definitely wanted to keep my eyes out,” said Renato Radu.

But others, like Darren Meyer knew what was happening right away.

“I thought it was a good idea. I know there were these things put in place with Amber Alerts earlier and now it's kinda cool to see that all these little phone systems are actually working,” he said.

Several people said they appreciated getting the alert on their cell phone since they don’t watch the news on TV.

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