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Multiple-media alert system to locate endangered missing children

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The Dutch police are using an innovative, cross-media alert system, AMBER Alert Netherlands, for locating missing and abducted children whose life or health is thought to be endangered. AMBER Alert Netherlands is a joint initiative of software company Netpresenter and the Netherlands Police Agency (Klpd). It enables the whole of the Netherlands to be immediately alerted when a child goes missing or is abducted, by means of pop-ups on PCs, large advertising (digital signage) screens, email, SMS text messages, instant messenger, RSS newsfeeds and website alerts (Flash). The goal of the new system is to make use of the general public’s eyes and ears in urgent missing children cases, to help trace the child more quickly. The broad range of media involved makes it easy for any Dutch citizen, organization or company to help find these children. The system will only be issued for urgent missing children cases. The Netherlands Police Agency (Klpd) decides whether an alert will be issued through it by assessing whether a case meets the AMBER Alert criteria. These criteria include that the child has to be under 18 years old, and that there has to be direct endangerment to the child’s life or a fear for grave injury. Expectations are that an AMBER Alert will be issued in the Netherlands between five and ten times a year. To engage with the system software can be downloaded from the AMBER Alert website (www.amberalertnederland.nl). This allows for a pop-up to appear on a PC or digital signage screen demanding attention for an urgent missing children’s case. The pop-up disappears again after a few minutes. It is also possible to subscribe to AMBER Alert emails, text messages and IM messages or allow for a Flash message to appear on an internal or external website. AMBER Alert Netherlands is modelled on the American AMBER Alert Plan that has saved the lives of many children. Alerts will not include advertising and the users’ privacy is safeguarded. Netpresenter has provided the platform to the Klpd (Netherlands Police Agency) free of charge.

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