Audible Alert

07 November, 2019 11:30AM ยท 2 minute read

The other night, I was just minding my own business having dinner at Olive Garden, enjoying a bread loaf…I mean “stick” yeah that thing’s more like a bread trunk or bread branch than a stick.

I digress…

An odd alert sound went off through the entire building. At first I thought it was a car alarm going off outside. It wasn’t. I looked around and nobody seemed to be reacting, flinching or panicking. In fact, most people looked as though there was nothing out of the ordinary and kept eating, talking and walking by. I was, frankly, puzzled. My iPhone is currently on an international roaming agreement with AT&T and then I received an Amber Alert on my phone.

Those people that follow me know that I always turn the volume off, using my Apple Watch for haptic feedback for incoming calls, messages, everything so I was shocked when my phone made noise and started vibrating! I had no idea what an Amber Alert was, so I Googled it (as you do) and realised that it was the US Emergency Warning system. I had heard of it, but never connected what it was until I read about how it worked.

I hope they find the child that was abducted - that’s a horrible thing and not unique to America. It happens the world over and it’s terrible.

The also disturbing part for me upon reflection was the lack of movement, lack of concern, lack of any real detectable reaction from the locals in the restaurant.

I study control system, human interfaces in my job and there’s a field of study that focuses on desensitisation of people to repetitive alarm inputs. How often must people be getting these alerts to have that reaction - i.e. no reaction? I looked it up. In 2018 there were 200 Amber Alerts issued nationwide averaging about one every two days. According to the Amber Alert website, as of April 2019 957 children had been rescued specifically because of an Amber Alert since the program began in 2006. Of course that’s an amazing result but I can’t get past the reactions of the locals.

Systems like this will fade in effectiveness with the passage of time, it’s inevitable. In the meantime I just hope that people don’t treat them like a nuisance EMail alert, and pay attention.

PS: I looked for a vehicle matching the description in the car park and on the drive back to the hotel. I did not see it.