Amber Plan Implementation Assistance Program

On March 5, 2003 South Dakota implemented and tested its Amber Alert process. The process was established through a collaborative effort between four agencies of South Dakota state government, commercial media, the South Dakota Trucking Association, and other interested parties. South Dakota focused on linking as wide a range of communication paths and systems as possible using only preexisting infrastructure to reach its citizens. By choosing to use existing infrastructure, South Dakota assured good communication coverage for Amber Alert at a low startup cost. However, this focus also meant bypassing a number of potential communication avenues because the systems involved would require considerable effort and cost to make them suitable for use in an Amber Alert. It also meant including several communication paths that, due to obsolete or simplistic technology, required considerable manual intervention to use and consequently added undesirable delays in the time it takes to get an Amber Alert notice to the public. In December 2003, South Dakota applied for funding under the AMBER Plan Program Support Assistance Program to enhance South Dakota's existing Amber Alert system through a five-phase project to: (1) shorten the time required to post high-quality Amber Alert photos to television; (2) make Amber Alert details available via the 511 Statewide Travel Information Service; (3) improve the speed, reliability, and capability of the communication system feeding eight Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) operated by the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT); (4) improve the speed, reliability, and capability of the communication system feeding the twenty-one Interstate Rest Area kiosks to make them suitable for use in Amber Alerts; and (5) integrate the improvements from items 1-4 into the existing Amber Alert system by developing training documents and programs and presenting those programs to staff involved in SD Amber Alerts. In January 2004, the Federal Highway Administration announced that South Dakota's request had been funded. The work is progressing according to plan and on schedule.