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Posted 29 Apr 2013
Licenced CPOL

Amber Alerts in the Cloud

, 29 Apr 2013
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Putting the alerts in your hands through the use of Azure

Editorial Note

This article is an entry in our Windows Azure Developer Challenge. Articles in this sub-section are not required to be full articles so care should be taken when voting. Create your free Azure Trial Account to Enter the Challenge.


Amber Alerts is a system developed in 1996 for alerting the public via television, digital signage, radio and recently some internet outlets of child abductions or missing children in the U.S. . To date, 9 other countries have adopted a similar system, however the speed at which the notifications get to the public seems antiquated or behind the times.

Late last year, I developed Find Amber for Windows Phone which used Azure features as a development practice. The app has seen some success and there is a need to take it to the next level in order to increase visibility of these important alerts.

Current Architecture

 Find Amber, as mentioned above, does take advantage of Azure now in the way of 2 worker roles, a web role and SQL. 

The worker roles are responsible for downloading the data and sending notifications to the devices. ASP.NET Web API runs on the web roles and serves the RESTful API for the Windows Phone client, while all the data resides in the SQL Azure instance.

A pretty solid offering, but the maintenance of the multiple roles has been a task for updates and there are platforms I want to move the app to. This is where Azure Mobile Services and Azure Websites comes in.

Future Architecture

Mobile Services will be put in place to serve as the RESTful API and as a part of that it also offers Scheduler by which automated scripts will be run to call a node.js service running on  a Mobile Website to aggregate and load the data.

When a new record is added, push notifications will be sent to the client applications using the PUSH feature of Mobile Services.

Clients supported:

  • Windows Phone 7, 8
  • Windows 8
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Facebook Application
  • ASP.NET Single Page Application

Android and iOS clients will be built using Icenium, a cross platform development tool from Telerik which runs PhoneGap under the covers.

All of the applications will take full advantage of the REST API provided by Mobile Services, Push Notifications, Social sharing (where applicable).


Points of Interest

Some takeaways of the project I would like for the readers/watchers here is to show not only how to take advantage of a cloud based application, but also see how building a reusable API allows for any application to be put on to any mobile OS or web with little effort.

Why Azure?

The application already uses Azure, but why?  Scalability, performance! In the event of a tragedy I see that solution like natural disasters, child abductions, or some other horrific event.  We as a society need to be able to get the notifications to the public as fast as possible without delay or excuse of "too much traffic".

With a solution like I am proposing here, digital signage could even be added to take advantage of the REST API.  With a simple slider, the back scales as we need to meet the demand.  We would never have the excuse of we were over loaded in the server room.  Save a life, move the slider!


  04/29/2013 - Project Scope / Description


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Shayne P Boyer
United States United States
I work on Azure, ASP.NET Core content and Open Source, speak at national and community events while helping teams architect web and cloud applications.

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Comments and Discussions

Questionfunctions for cloud computing Pin
Member 135517701-Dec-17 0:44
memberMember 135517701-Dec-17 0:44 
QuestionNice Idea, but Pin
jgakenhe20-Jan-15 3:24
professionaljgakenhe20-Jan-15 3:24 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
JV999928-Nov-13 21:53
professionalJV999928-Nov-13 21:53 
QuestionMany potential child protection possibilities Pin
mielniczuk6-May-13 9:33
membermielniczuk6-May-13 9:33 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
CyclingFoodmanPA6-May-13 7:14
memberCyclingFoodmanPA6-May-13 7:14 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Karlkim30-Apr-13 18:23
professionalKarlkim30-Apr-13 18:23 
GeneralGreat App Idea Pin
HTaylor29-Apr-13 7:55
professionalHTaylor29-Apr-13 7:55 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
azarc329-Apr-13 7:38
memberazarc329-Apr-13 7:38 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
roscler29-Apr-13 7:19
professionalroscler29-Apr-13 7:19 
QuestionMy vote of 5 Pin
ArchieCoder29-Apr-13 7:19
memberArchieCoder29-Apr-13 7:19 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Shayne P Boyer29-Apr-13 7:18
memberShayne P Boyer29-Apr-13 7:18 

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