Comments about ‘In our opinion: Those who manage Amber Alert need to proceed cautiously’

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Published: Monday, Aug. 12 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

In Utah we have serious rules governing when and how Amber Alert is used (and they can't be waived). It also details the info that should (or shouldn't) be included in the Amber Alert.

I'm sure a similar set of rules will be used if/when we send data to people's phones.

Lightbearer
Brigham City, UT

For one thing, it should be an opt-in-only system. If I don't opt in, I don't receive the messages.

The same goes for amber alerts on cable TV. Unless I opt in, the cable company, or whoever is responsible, should not be allowed simply to change the channels on my cable box to tune in the emergency channel. It would be sufficient to have local channels run a text message - without any beeping or voiceover - along the top or bottom of the screen.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Lightbearer,
Should you also be able to opt out of seeing the messages on the overhead signs on the freeways?

I think the beeping and voice are for people who may be interested but are not watching the screen at the exact moment the notice is displayed.

I think they could provide an opt in/out for cable TV, but that would require them to transmit broadcast content in a completely different way. Currently they broadcast the signal, and you see whatever channel you are tuned too (not a custom feed to each home). But they could probably do this if they required all content to be handled like pay-per-view (where you order the content and they send a custom feed of the selected program to your modem). But that would require a HUGE expense in equipment (for all broadcasts to be stored on servers and transmitted in a custom feed to each home). And all content would have to be pre-recorded (so it could be stored and customized instead of a live broadcast).

Lightbearer
Brigham City, UT

Re "Should you also be able to opt out of seeing the messages on the overhead signs on the freeways?"

How is that comparable to sitting at home watching TV? What if my TV is off? I don't see the alert then, either.

Re: "I think they could provide an opt in/out for cable TV, but that would require them to transmit broadcast content in a completely different way. Currently they broadcast the signal, and you see whatever channel you are tuned too (not a custom feed to each home)."

During an amber alert, the cable box switches to the emergency channel, as it does during tests of the emergency broadcast system. You can't change channels. You can't change back to the channel you were watching. It's as if the remote has been disabled. After the alert, the cable box switches back to the channel you were previously watching - when it works correctly. Since every cable box is already registered, they would simply have to exclude those cable boxes that haven't opted in.

Secondary boxes (DTAs) and satellite receivers don't behave that way, so with them there's no need to opt out.

CD Jorgensen
Idaho Falls, ID

I was one of about half a dozen people in my office who suddenly got an Amber Alert for Hannah Anderson when it was believed that she might be headed in the direction of Idaho, where I live. While it startled us all, the sudden mass ringing was more funny than annoying. And even if it were annoying, I would rather still get it if there were a chance of me being able to help when it was needed.

However, the short message was nearly useless (about 60 characters). It took a bit of deciphering to figure out what information they wanted to convey. Most text messages are limited to 160 characters, and I would rather they make use of it, even if they are limited to fewer characters in other mediums. It can't be all that difficult to create two messages instead of one.

As far as opting out...I don't think it should be allowed, but I do think people should be able to configure their phone to use the current ring settings for Amber Alerts.

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