Yesterday’s Amber Alert had the entire country hoping for the safe return of 6-year-old Emma O’Keeffe. She was kidnapped when an unknown suspect stole her mother’s vehicle while she was strapped in the back seat.
Thankfully, she was later found safe, 14 hours after her abduction. While the Amber Alert resulted in a happy ending, the ordeal has revealed a serious flaw in the National Public Alerting System, also known as Alert Ready.
The alert about O'Keeffe's kidnapping was initially sent out by the RCMP in Saskatchewan at 7:31 p.m. local time. While the alert was broadcast throughout the province on radio and television stations, Alert Ready dropped the ball on sending out messages to cell phones. The flop had some people unaware of the Amber Alert for three hours. The mishap is being blamed on technical issues.
The Ministry of Government Relations in Saskatchewan said they were notified of the alert issues and decided to manually send the alert through a mobile app, SaskAlert at 8:30 p.m. For many people who don’t have the app, they didn’t receive the alert in their notifications until 10:30 p.m.
"The province is working with the National Public Alerting System to prevent this issue from happening in the future," they said in a statement.
It was only in April that Alert Ready began sending wireless notifications in Canada during emergency situations. As this most recent situation proves, they still may have some kinks to work out.