All about AMBER Alerts

An AMBER Alert or a Child Abduction Emergency is a child abduction alert system that originated in the United States in 1996. “AMBER” officially stands for “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.”

AMBER Alerts are distributed via commercial radio stations, internet radio, satellite radio, television stations, and cable TV by the Emergency Alert System and NOAA Weather Radio. The alerts are also issued via e-mail, wireless device SMS text messages, electronic traffic-condition signs, and commercial electronic billboards, which is why we are writing this article for you today.

Venus® Control Suite allows users with certain display models to enable AMBER Alerts. Daktronics works with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) to help alert the public by running AMBER Alerts.

Would you please clarify how the Emergency Alert system is supposed to work?

The NCMEC confirms the authenticity before distributing to secondary distributors like the FBI, MSN, AOL, Daktronics, etc.  In Venus Control Suite, the display owner can opt in to participate in AMBER Alert data distribution if their display matrix is within NCMEC requirements.

Daktronics data servers receive the AMBER Alert data activation and cancellation from NCMEC servers. The data is then electronically processed and distributed to participating displays that fall within the targeted zip codes.

How can I see if my display qualifies?

  1. Launch Venus Control Suite, go to your Displays tab in the Main Menu, and click on your display.
  2. Can you see EMERGENCY ALERTS listed? Unfortunately, if you do not see EMERGENCY ALERTS, your display does not fall into the matrix size required to support the AMBER Alert template.
  3. If you can see EMERGENCY ALERTS listed, click on it and turn the alerts ON.
  4. AMBER Alerts are sent based on five-digit zip codes. Enter the zip code of your display. If you are in an area with multiple zip codes, you may list up to four zip codes.
  5. Next, you can configure the duration of the AMBER Alert. The alert will play Exclusive for the time you set (2 hours is the default) and then will rotate into your schedule for the time period listed in Rotational Duration (default is every 3 messages). Any of these default settings can be changed.
  6. Click the SAVE button to save your changes and allow AMBER Alerts.


Specifically, when we enter in a zip code to be included, is it necessary to include surrounding zip codes? What is the best practice for these situations?

As previously mentioned, Venus Control Suite was updated last week so that the Amber Alerts configuration now allows a max of 4 zip codes to be specified.

The emergency alert system will only display alerts for the zip code(s) you select, so it is up to you to determine if you want to add in any additional nearby zip codes. Think of your display(s) location(s) when making this decision. It will be up to you to decide if it would benefit those passing by to see information from a specific zip code or information from multiple zip codes.

Additional Resources:

Please click on the following link for step-by-step instructions about how to set up AMBER Alerts in Venus Control Suite.

To view active AMBER Alerts, please visit the NCMEC website.

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Thanks for reading!

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