Our goal at the Tennessee Bureau Investigation is always to protect and serve our great state. One way we do that, when there is a direct danger to the public, is by using a network of partners to disseminate information as quickly as possible.
In AMBER and Blue Alerts, TBI uses TDOT road signs, lottery displays, our social media platforms, and relationships with media outlets across the state.
We also use services provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) to deliver information to cellular devices in AMBER and Blue alerts, respectively.
We’ve heard your frustration – loud and clear – about receiving multiple notifications on your mobile devices when two Blue Alerts were issued on Tuesday, June 28th. Some people received audible notifications overnight, many hours after the actual Blue Alerts were issued and resolved.
That’s frustrating and inconvenient, for all of us. And for that, we apologize.
We’ve talked with our partners, and here’s what we’ve learned: The emergency message regarding each Blue Alert was sent one time, in each case.
So why did some users receive the audible notifications multiple times, hours later, or not at all?
Unfortunately, there is no one easy answer. Instead, it can rely on any number of factors, for each individual cell user, to include:
- Your particular cellular service provider
- Your movement in and out of state
- Your movement across cell tower coverage areas
- If you power your device on and off
- If you shift in and out of airplane mode
- Your signal strength at any particular time
- Software and Wi-Fi settings
While this is certainly not ideal, it’s a function of the technical system in place, not the misstep of any single person or agency. Still, we routinely review our actions in these types of critical incidents, after the fact, and a vital part of that work weighs the public’s feedback. We’ve heard your frustration about this week’s alerts and your hopes for a more efficient, timely, and informative alert system.
Those are our priorities, too.
We will continue to sharpen our system, with your feedback, as these situations demand our best efforts for the sake of the safety of our state’s communities and its people.