NCMEC begins Amber e-mails

Officials from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) announced today that they will redistribute Amber Alerts to millions of households through geographically-targeted broadcast e-mails.

In this initiative, the center has partnered with Advo, a direct mail advertising company, and Prospectiv, an online marketing provider, to disseminate information about missing children to their respective online customers.

Prospectiv’s technology platform for the e-mail Amber Alert program is based on the company’s proprietary e-mail broadcast system and precision targeting capabilities, according to a press release.

When a law enforcement agency activates an alert, it is immediately broadcast on TV and radio stations, and posted on electronic highway billboards. But it also sent to NCMEC, which sends an Extensible Markup Language feed to Prospectiv's server. The company then uses a fully-automated immediate response system, which operates around the clock, to instantly create an e-mail message describing the abducted child. The e-mail is broadcast to customers of Advo and Prospectiv in relevant zip codes. Updates and cancellations are disseminated the same way.

"Now when a child has been abducted, our fully-automated 24/7 response system can help get the word out more quickly than ever to the geographically targeted area,” Jere Doyle, Prospectiv's president and chief executive officer, said in the same release.

"These e-mail Amber Alerts are a great addition to our 'Have You Seen Me?' postcards, the most recognized mail in America, which deliver the names and faces of missing children to 85 million homes each week," Vince Giuliano, Advo’s senior vice president of government relations, said in a prepared statement.

NCMEC's announcement comes at the heels of another partnership with the cellular phone industry and a number of wireless carriers, who will distribute alerts to phones able to receive text messages.

The Amber Alert program was created in 1997 when Dallas-area broadcasters teamed up with local police to develop an early warning system to find abducted children, a legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped and murdered. Amber also stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. To date, 188 children have been saved through the program, according to NCMEC.

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