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This article was published on October 31, 2012

Google Search and Maps gets Amber Alerts for missing children in your area

Google Search and Maps gets Amber Alerts for missing children in your area
Emil Protalinski
Story by

Emil Protalinski

Emil was a reporter for The Next Web between 2012 and 2014. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, incl Emil was a reporter for The Next Web between 2012 and 2014. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars Technica, Neowin, TechSpot, ZDNet, and CNET. Stay in touch via Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Google today announced it is bringing AMBER Alerts Google Search on desktop and mobile as well as Google Maps. The initiative is thanks to a partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Here’s a screenshot showing how the feature will look like in Google Search on desktop (notice the third result):

Google is leveraging its Public Alerts platform here, which also notifies its users about emergencies such as storms and floods in your area. It’s great to see Google expand this to AMBER Alerts, which aim to help bring abducted children home safely, as long as they’re relevant to where you’re searching from.

Google says the AMBER alerts will only appear when you search for related information in a particular location where a child has recently been abducted, and a corresponding alert has been issued, or if you conduct a targeted search for a related situation. The alerts themselves feature just what you’d expect: information about the abducted child as well as details about the case (the make and model of the vehicle he/she was abducted in, what is known about the alleged abductor, and other circumstantial details). Google says it will update information about the case as the company gets it.

Google gives this explanation as to why it is adding AMBER alerts:

By increasing the availability of these alerts through our services, we hope that more people will assist in the search for children featured in AMBER Alerts and that the rates of safe recovery will rise. We’ll keep exploring different ways to improve child protection through innovative technology, like those used to reduce exploitation and improve reporting to NCMEC.

Since the AMBER Alert Program is a US Department of Justice initiative (it’s actually voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies) this feature is limited to just one country. Google says it is planning on working with more than just the NCMEC, however, it has already started talking to Missing Children Europe and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection to expand the feature.

Image credit: Ryan Glanzer