Cell phones blared across South Dakota on Tuesday night as an Amber Alert was issued for two Canadian children who were traveling with their non-custodial mother and her companion.
But the text alert had little information. Issued at 11:05 p.m., the alert asked people to check the Amber Alert website and their local media. TV broadcast alerts also had little information. When trying to access the website for more information, the page crashed for some users for several minutes.
SD Alert emails weren’t received until nearly 40 minutes after the push alert went out, leaving media members refreshing to access the Amber Alert website for when it loaded.
So what went wrong?
Too much traffic to the South Dakota Amber Alert website
In an emailed statement to the Argus Leader, Tony Mangan, a spokesperson for the State of South Dakota, said that the South Dakota Amber Alert website was slow because of the heavy flow of traffic.
When the information did load though, people were able to access the information and the children were found safe near Sturgis a couple of hours after the alert was published.
More:Amber Alert canceled for Canadian children after they were found in South Dakota
“It is important to remember that the system worked and it resulted in finding the children safely,” DCI wrote in a statement to the Argus Leader.
Why wasn’t the Amber Alert issued earlier?
An Amber Alert for the two children was issued by the Saskatchewan Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Monday, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
It wasn’t until a press conference Tuesday afternoon though that police announced that they believed the two children and the adults were in South Dakota, according to the CBC. The alert was extended to include the state later in the evening.
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DCI said that it takes time to coordinate responses between states, or in this case countries, “because it is important to gather the correct information and coordinate resources.”
Why doesn’t the state-wide push alert have more information?
In other states, such as Colorado, Amber Alerts issued via phone will have the vehicle’s make and model that the children were last seen in.
DCI did not respond to a question about why the state does not put more information in the alert.
Hasn’t this happened before?
At the end of August 2021, an Amber Alert was issued for three children taken from Rosebud. Twenty-five minutes later, the alert was canceled.
But the same problems that happened Tuesday, happened last year. The website crashed, showing a 503 message, and people took notice. Not only did the Amber Alert site go down, so did the Attorney General’s website.
Right after the alert was sent, the Department of Criminal Investigation got a call that the children had been found safe by authorities in Rosebud.
More:‘Don’t overlook us’: Slow Amber Alert rollout reflects missing, murdered Indigenous crisis
In Tuesday’s case, DCI said they’ll be reviewing what went right and what went wrong to further improve their response in the future.