COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio AMBER Alert Advisory Committee is announcing a recent change to how the public will receive notifications when Ohio’s AMBER Alert system is activated. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs), which are emergency messages that are broadcast to enabled mobile devices, are now capable of transmitting 360-character text messages in addition to the traditional 90-character text messages. This change is due to increased technology by both wireless carriers and wireless device manufacturers.
Traditional 90-character messages are limited to including basic vehicle information and notification for device users to check local media outlets for additional details. The increase in characters allows public safety officials to provide more in-depth details on the suspect(s), victim(s), vehicle(s), and other urgent information when an AMBER Alert is activated. Furthermore, the changes enable a URL that redirects the device user to Ohio’s AMBER Alert website or other social media for additional information. Once redirected, the user will be able to see all information regarding the AMBER Alert as well as any available photos.
An important fact to remember is that some older wireless devices or certain wireless carriers may only allow devices to receive 90-character messages. Both a 90-character message and a 360-character message will be sent out during an AMBER Alert notification; however, users will only receive the version of the alert supported by their device and carrier. Devices that are not capable of receiving the new 360-character message will automatically receive the default 90-character message as they have in the past.
An example of the new 360-character messaging format wireless device users can expect to see is below:
“AMBER Alert: Columbus OH. 2008 red 4 door Honda Civic OH ABC1234. Victim, 3, white male, brown hair, blue shirt, blue shorts. Suspect, John Doe, 41, white male, blonde hair, red shirt, jeans. Last seen at 1234 Main Street, Columbus. If you see the child, suspect or vehicle, please call 911 or 1-877-AMBER-OH. https://www.ohioamberplan.org.”
The Ohio AMBER Alert Advisory Committee is comprised of representatives from the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio Department of Transportation, Attorney General’s Office – BCI, Missing Persons Unit, State Emergency Communications Committee, Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association, Ohio Association of Chief’s of Police, Ohio Association of Broadcasters, a victim’s advocate, a community member and a representative from a local/regional AMBER plan.
Submitted by the Ohio AMBER Alert Advisory Committee.