Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Emergency Alert Messages on Cells

My opinion about the Emergency Alert System as they are used via cell phones is that these alerts should only be use for situations where the masses of people are in physical danger.  That could include impending aftershocks from earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, a mass shooter on the loose (as in Hollywood and in Santa Monica not long ago), flash flood warnings, the North Koreans landing on our shores, an impending missile strike or terrorist hit, etc.

The use of the Emergency Alert System for Amber Alerts and other crimes is an overstepping of the system both because they are not crimes that threaten great numbers of people’s physical safety, and also because their use in this regard will make the EAS a commonplace occurrence that will make people, say in business meetings, react with, “Oh, it’s just another one of those damned things.”  That’s a bad idea for an EAS system’s credibility.

Amber Alerts and various other crimes (car-jackings, other types of kidnappings) have plenty of other outlets such as radio stations and the Internet to get the word out.  In addition, specifically for Amber Alerts, those people receiving the Amber Alert on their cell phones who are not driving can’t really do anything or won’t remember it later if they are driving, and those who receive the information while they are driving are being pressured to break the law, look down at their phones and start reading texts from the EAS while they are driving.  There are enough Cal Trans signs around our freeways to provide Amber Alert information in a much safer way.  For, when the time comes that my cell phone screeches with an EAS message that an asteroid is fourteen minutes away from hitting the western San Fernando Valley, I don’t want to say to myself, “Oh, I’ll check that later.”