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Thursday, 13 December 2012

AMBER Alerts: The Social Importance of Digital Advertising

Every year around 250,000 people go missing in the United Kingdom alone, that’s enough people to fill the Olympic Stadium three times over. Roughly 140,000 of those who go missing are children, some of whom may never come home. When a child goes missing time is of the essence and this is where great advancements in technology, such as, Amber Alert systems and digital advertising are helping to rapidly raise alarms in those crucial few hours after a disappearance. The AMBER Alert system started in America. It stands for ‘America’s Missing: Broadcasting Emergency Response’, it is a backronym for a little girl named Amber who was abducted and murdered in Texas in 1996. An AMBER Alert is issued when a child is missing and is distributed across radio stations, television channels, email and electronic traffic signal signs and via SMS to people who opt to receive these alerts. This system has since succeeded in seeing more than 300 children returned home to their parents after an alarm has been raised. Since its implementation in the United States different versions of the AMBER Alert have been legislated in countries around the world, including Canada, Australia, France, Ireland, Malaysia and Mexico. In the UK every police force has had an alert system in place since 2005. As of Missing Children’s Day 2010 there has been a nationally co-ordinated system. In July of this year the mother of missing British child, Madeleine McCann, launched a digital billboard campaign in major cities London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. These billboards were a follow on from the success of the charity, Missing People’s ‘Big Tweet for Missing Children’ day in May. The big tweet campaign resulted in the safe return of two missing children. Digital advertising offers the unique chance for real time outdoor advertising. If a person goes missing, their picture, description and any other pertinent information may be uploaded to the digital sign almost instantaneously assuring the public is aware and on the look out for such persons. Before now this technology was only available in major cities, Maxx Media is now bringing it to the Brighton big screen, so that the community can have access to one of the fastest forms of alert available. They are offering this dynamic media advertising space for free to the local police and are hoping that their contribution will have a big impact. The Brighton Smart Screen will have a weekly OTS of 360,000 people a week, hopefully one of those people will know something and in 2013 they can help increase the number of missing people who are found.

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