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Video: Education needed on cellphone alerts: experts

Observers say anger at cellphone Amber Alerts that rouse people from their sleep is misplaced and shows the need for more public education. People need to understand that the emergency alerts are only issued when police need help in finding a child they believe is in grave peril — usually the result of an abduction. Ken McBey, a professor at York University who specializes in social and behavioural elements in emergencies, said those who light up 911 to complain about the alerts are being "incredibly selfish." The latest situation arose in the early hours on Tuesday, when police in the area of Sudbury, Ont., issued an Amber Alert. The alert sent a loud, piercing tone to cellphones along with details of a missing three-year-old boy and the circumstances of his alleged abduction. As in the past, some recipients objecting to being disturbed called emergency services to vent their anger. That in turn prompted a plea from police in Toronto, as well as the city's mayor to warn against making such calls to 911 as they could delay response to a real threat. Amber Alerts used to be broadcast via mainstream media, missing people who weren't watching television or listening to the radio. Social media helped, but for about a year now, the technology has allowed alerts to be sent to almost all cellphones within a certain geographic area.
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