JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -

The AMBER Alert system has been in place since 1996 and is credited with the rescue of abducted children all over the country.

It began as a partnership between local media outlets and the police. It has now developed into a wide range communication tool that also includes transportation agencies like MoDOT and even smart phones.

This time last year, AMBER Alerts began being sent automatically to cellphone users using the nation's Wireless Emergency Alerts program.

If your phone is enabled, which most smart phones are, you are automatically enrolled in AMBER Alerts.

The program is run by the national center for missing and exploited children, but it can be used at the local level as well.

"We have the capabilities to do that in each troop. We can send it out in a specific area or statewide," said Tim Hull, of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

The patrol says AMBER Alerts are a prominent tool in child abduction cases and greatly increase the chance of a child being rescued.

"When a child is abducted, speed is of the essence. The quicker that they're found, there more likely they are to be alive," said Hull.

The Center for Missing and Exploited Children says the goal of AMBER Alerts is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and safe recovery of the child.