Washington launches AMBER Alert Pilot Project

The pilot will test the feasibility of a multi-state AMBER Alert Web portal.

by / April 28, 2003
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The state of Washington announced plans late last week for a pilot project to test the viability of a multi-state AMBER Alert Web portal.

Officials said the portal would offer a single location from which the media, law enforcement and the public can obtain current AMBER Alerts on abducted children, regardless of the jurisdiction posting the information.

Washington's Department of Information Services; the Washington State Patrol; the state's Emergency Management Division; the state Department of Transportation; the Washington State Association of Broadcasters; the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs; and E2C (Engaging & Empowering Citizenship)/Earth 911 all worked together to create the strategic partnership to develop the pilot project.

"This is a terrific concept," said Gov. Gary Locke. "The Internet may be a great tool to help reunite children taken from their families. I look forward to seeing the final results of this pilot project."

"Currently there is no single place for the public and law enforcement to go to receive information about AMBER Alerts from multiple jurisdictions," said DIS Director Stuart McKee. "This pilot will allow us to develop a single electronic interface that will provide users with an intuitive and easy-to-use navigation system with AMBER Alert information from multiple states, cities and counties. We need to do all we can to protect children."

Under the state's current AMBER Alert plan, the Washington State Patrol acts as the main point of contact for local law enforcement agencies wanting to broadcast their local child abduction information statewide through the state's Emergency Alert System, coordinated and operated by the state's Emergency Management Division.

The pilot -- which officials said is designed to be completed in 90 days -- seeks to enhance the current AMBER Alert plan by allowing local law enforcement in cities and states to post up-to-date information about an abducted child to a single AMBER Alert Web portal.

The portal will use a GIS to provide map-based search capabilities, and convey location-based information to the public. Law enforcement, media and citizens will have the option to choose to be notified of alerts and status updates via e-mail, fax or phone, or other Web service notification methods, such as paging or via their PDAs. Information on the portal can be displayed in visual, text or audio format, for both local and extended areas.

Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia, the Partnership for Public Warning, and ESRI, a geographic information system company, will also participate in the pilot project.

Washington Department of Information Services