Ontario’s Amber Alert system risks alienating the public by issuing alerts, sometimes late at night, that people perceive they can’t usefully respond to. Disaster & Emergency Management (DEM) professor Kenneth McBey pointed to two features of the system that in his view risk training people to ignore alerts: sending them to every phone in the province, and sending them potentially at any hour of the day or night.
“If you irritate people unnecessarily, do it in various formats where they turn against it or somehow aren’t open to the message and won’t comply, it’s not working in anyone’s best interests,” he told CTVNews.ca.
He also suggested issuing alerts at night only to people whose phones have been moving, which implies that they are awake, and sending the alert to everybody else when their phones start moving.
“If it hasn't moved in hours, and you're not close to (the abduction), it really is a bit of a reach as to why those individuals need an audio audible alarm,” he said. “Text? Yes. You can check in the morning.”
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