By Jason Ankeny
Proving the old adage that "There's safety in numbers," the five major U.S. mobile operators--AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile USA and Alltel Wireless--jointly committed to the AmberWatch Mobile Initiative, a charitable effort that generates funds for the national child welfare non-profit AmberWatch Foundation. Paul Jacobs, CEO of fellow AmberWatch partner Qualcomm, officially announced the operators' participation during his keynote appearance Thursday at BREW 2008.
Powered by location-based solutions provider WaveMarket, the AmberWatch Mobile Initiative will raise funding and awareness for the foundation, which is dedicated to keeping children safe from molestation and abduction by establishing partnerships with local law enforcement and other officials. AmberWatch's "Be Safe!" Education Program offers children and their parents tips on staying safe from predators, delivering presentations at no cost to the school, municipality or local community group that hosts the event.
Although the carrier members are scheduled to take part in a series of fundraising efforts to support the AmberWatch Mobile Initiative, details were scarce. "The wireless industry will roll out this program, which is great for kids," Jacobs said. "We'll give you updates as it progresses."
Presumably some funding will derive from WaveMarket's premium LBS services. The company will develop AmberWatch Mobile, a cross-carrier, GPS-based safety application enabling youngsters to reach out for assistance via mobile device. Alerts automatically include the child's location, viewable on a map from the web or a mobile phone. Family members can also track a child's whereabouts on-demand or using "scheduled checks.