Technology can help save lives, find children

AMBER, Carolina Alerts help police solve crimes

Many of today’s issues have been addressed by technology. Whether its speeding things up or taking things mobile and connecting the world, technology has created a more efficient population. Though some cry, “Big Brother,” it is this technology that has the potential to save lives.

Amber Hagerman was kidnapped in January 1996, at the age of nine, while riding her bike. Her recovered remains sparked a passionate movement across the state of Texas and would soon start a revolution throughout the country. Through Hageman’s death, the “Amber Alert” was created—an acronym for “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response” and a reminder of the little girl who couldn’t be saved.

Amber Alerts are sent to police stations, media sources and the public when a child is abducted. The alerts arrive as a 10-second, high-pitched tone on cell phones. Many new phones come with the alert programmed in, without the option to turn off or silence the alarming tone.
On Aug. 4, 2013, an Amber Alert was issued with details about two missing children: Anderson siblings Hannah, 16, and Ethan, 8.

Police were first alerted as they responded to a suspicious fire where a woman’s body — later identified as Christine Anderson, the children’s mother — was found. Soon after, the police uncovered another body, 8-year-old Ethan. They identified family friend James Lee DiMaggio as a suspect and issued an Amber Alert detailing his license plate number, model and make of his car and information about his last sighting.

Later that evening, Twitter was flooded with more than 160,000 tweets with the phrase “Amber Alert,” many calling the technology annoying or scary, even poking fun at the seemingly extreme measures.

Several days later, a couple horseback-riding in the Idaho wilderness recognized DiMaggio and Hannah Anderson. After the couple reported the sighting to police, Anderson was recovered alive.
What seemed like a small annoyance or late-night disturbance to some saved the life of a 16-year-old girl who frequently used technology to answer “ask.fm” questions or update her Facebook page. Almost 700 other children have also been fortunate enough to be found thanks to Amber Alerts.

Much like Amber Alerts, Carolina Alerts are sent to students warning them of crime on or around campus, as well as severe weather or traffic delays. While some students may see the text messages or emails as disruptive or bothersome, the technology proves irreplaceable in the face of crime.

What may seem like an irritating or extreme measure actually protect the safety of students and sometimes identify perpetrators. Technology has given USC and the world the opportunity to watch each other’s backs from across the campus, city, state and country. That’s something to be thankful for.


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