AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Police say they used a mass alert system to tell neighbors in the area to be on the lookout after a ten-year-old girl went missing Thursday, but many neighbors told KXAN they never received the alert.
According to APD, more than 32,000 emergency alerts went out through the Everbridge System, which is similar to Reverse 911. It contacts every landline in the area, along with anyone who’s signed up to receive text, cell phone or email alerts through Warn Central Texas. In this case, the alert went out to everyone who lives within a four-mile radius of the little girl’s home.
APD found that only 789 people confirmed they received the call, meaning when the call came in, they listened to all the way through and pressed “1” at the end to confirm they got the message. For 15,102 others, police know the call did go through to their landlines or cell phones, but because it was the middle of the night, it may have gone to voicemail, or people didn’t listen all the way through and press “1” at the end.
However, 16,314 of the calls, texts and emails bounced back. Austin’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management says that could be for a couple of reasons. Most homes have a registered landline number, even if the people who live there disconnected the service and don’t have a home phone anymore. So, the city’s 911 system will automatically call all of those numbers and the ones that aren’t working bounce back.
Another issue is that a lot of people sign up to get alerts through Warn Central Texas, then never update their information. Their cell phone numbers may change. or they may still have old email addresses listed.
The city hopes this will serve as a reminder to update that information. Anyone who’s not already registered on Warn Central Texas must register in order to get those types of important alerts delivered anywhere other than a landline.