Wednesday, June 4, 2008

OAAA Partners with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children for Outdoor Advertising AMBER Alert Initiative

The Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) today announced a new initiative that will use digital billboards to help recover abducted children across the country. OAAA, the industry group representing outdoor advertising companies, is partnering with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) as a secondary AMBER AlertTM distributor.

“Digital billboards are on the cutting edge of outdoor advertising technology and are uniquely suited to purposes like AMBER Alerts,” said Nancy Fletcher, OAAA’s president and CEO. “Because they can be updated by computer, AMBER Alerts on digital billboards can reach thousands of drivers within minutes of the Alert being issued.”

The AMBER Alert Program, operated by the U.S. Department of Justice, is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, media outlets, and transportation agencies to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child abduction cases.

OAAA’s new initiative enhances the overall goal of the AMBER Alert program – to notify as many people as possible about a recent child abduction, and to provide information which can help in the search for the abducted child, suspected abductor, and/or suspected vehicle and in the safe return of the child. AMBER Alerts will be distributed by a central computer server to OAAA members participating in the program which fall within the specific, geographically targeted areas for the Alert.

“Today’s announcement reflects the dynamic progress we continue to make in improving the AMBER Alert system. This exciting initiative shows that public-private partnerships are central to the protection of our children,” said Jeff Sedgwick, the Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Justice Programs and the National AMBER Alert Coordinator.

The program is named after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who in 1996 was abducted while riding her bike in her Texas neighborhood and later found murdered. Since the program’s inception in 1997, AMBER Alerts have been credited with the successful recovery of more than 399 children.

“The success of the AMBER Alert program is directly related to people’s willingness to get involved, which is invaluable,” said John Kelly, Chairman of NCMEC’s Board of Directors. “OAAA’s digital technology will allow thousands more to join the search and aid in the rescue and recovery of these children.”

Initial OAAA members participating in the partnership include CBS Outdoor, Clear Channel Outdoor, Epic Outdoor Advertising, Fairway Outdoor Advertising, Lamar Advertising Company, Magic Media, Norton Outdoor Advertising, Titan Outdoor, and YESCO (which also designed the software for the program). These companies operate more than 900 digital billboards in the United States in hundreds of communities.

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