An AMBER Alert is an emergency alert activated in the most serious child abduction cases and has been used in New York State since 2002, and a new notification system now allows thousands of cell phone users across New York State to receive free, automatic AMBER Alert notifications.

The automated alerts are now possible through the national Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system. The WEA system uses the latest technology to send messages to wireless customers with WEA-capable phones in an area where an alert has been activated.

When receiving one of these messages, the phone will emit an audible tone unique to WEA and then display an AMBER Alert. The message is not in the form of a text message; it is a full screen alert that will provide limited details.

Many cell phone users do not know their phones even have this feature, and the wireless industry has indicated that all cell phones are expected to be WEA capable in 2013.