I ran across this just now. Basically, you receive a text message in the event a child is reported missing in your area. All participating wireless carriers don’t even charge you for the txt. The program is called Wireless AMBER Alerts. According to the site, the first 3 hours after a child is missing are the most critical to getting them back.
It’s a pretty ingenious and effective way to alert people very quickly. It’s also passive — I just go about my day as usual. If I get an alert, I can be extra vigilant with whatever information they send.
By tapping the collective population of mobile phone users, this organization can actually get reasonable participation. I’d like to see more organizations try things like this.
I’m already signed up.