The power and reach of social media will be used to its full potential to better protect children and certain vulnerable adults who are abducted in Nova Scotia.
Provincial policing partners announced today, May 25, that Nova Scotia’s AMBER Alert program will now have a dedicated Facebook page and, with Facebook Canada, will deliver notifications directly to Nova Scotians on their mobile devices.
“If the unthinkable happens and a child or vulnerable person has been abducted, Nova Scotians want to know police have the tools they need to alert the community and find the person,” said Justice Minister Lena Metlege Diab. “I’m pleased to join our policing partners today, on International Missing Children’s Day, to announce an enhancement to AMBER Alert in Nova Scotia.”
Police have launched a Facebook page for AMBER Alert Nova Scotia. Facebook users are encouraged to “like” the AMBER Alert Nova Scotia page to help spread the message when a child or vulnerable person is abducted to help police find them.
Nationally, Facebook Canada announced today AMBER Alerts will be delivered directly to the News Feed of people who are in a designated search area. They will receive comprehensive information, including a photograph and all available details, about an abducted child or vulnerable person. The alert will only appear in the mobile News Feeds of people who are in a designated search area and are therefore most likely in a position to help. Facebook users will be able to share the Alert easily and instantly with family and friends.
“This is a unique partnership with Facebook, police, the RCMP, and media that engages all Nova Scotians to help keep our communities safe,” said Truro Police Chief David MacNeil, president of the Nova Scotia Chiefs of Police Association. “A strong presence on Facebook, combined with direct notifications, will greatly improve how quickly and widely we can get word out when an AMBER Alert has been issued.”
“With over 13 million Canadians using Facebook on their mobile phone every day, it makes sense to harness that and drive as much awareness as possible when a child is abducted,” said Jordan Banks, global head of vertical strategy and managing director of Facebook Canada. “The most effective system will be one in which Facebook text messaging, broadcast and other channels all work together to help authorities in the search.”
Nova Scotians are also reminded they can receive AMBER Alert notifications via text message. People are invited to visit www.wirelessamber.ca to give their cellphone number to receive a text message when an AMBER Alert is issued in Canada.
AMBER Alert has been available in Nova Scotia since May 2004. The system allows police to distribute an emergency alert to the public when a child younger than 18 or a person with a proven mental or physical disability has been abducted and it is believed their life is in danger. RCMP in Nova Scotia issue all alerts on behalf of police agencies in the province.
Information is provided quickly to the public through volunteer efforts of local radio and television broadcasters, and now through social media and text message. Fortunately, no police agency in Nova Scotia has had to issue an AMBER Alert to date.