At its meeting Tuesday, the agency approved an item ensuring that when wireless providers send messages through the Wireless Emergency Alert system, the alerts are more targeted to individuals affected by the natural disaster or crisis in question.
Compounding the issues with the alert was that the agency lacked any preparation in how to correct the false warning.
Human error and inadequate safeguards contributed to the January 13 false ballistic missile alert generated by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency and transmitted to the public via the EAS and WEA systems, according to a preliminary report presented today during the FCC's monthly open meeting. Specifically, they heard the words: "'exercise, exercise, exercise, '" the report said.
Following standard procedures, the night-shift supervisor posing as Pacific Command played a recorded message to the emergency workers warning them of the fake threat.
Then the recording used language that is typically used for a real threat, not a drill: "this is not a drill". That supervisor played back a recording which began by saying "exercise" three times. After the fiasco, HI-EMA announced that it introduced a two-person process to send out missile alerts to the state and created a process to cancel an alert in case of an error. The new legislation, which will go into effect in November 2019, gives state employees the ability to send out alerts within a tenth of a mile of any given area.
"As a result, the day shift supervisor was not in the proper location to supervise the day shift warning officers when the ballistic missile defense drill was initiated", the FCC report said.
Wiley said also troubling is that Hawaii's alert origination software did not distinguish between the testing environment and the live-alert production environment.
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However, officials now report that the emergency worker was really under the impression the Aloha State was under attack due to a drill test gone wrong. "His poor performance has been documented for years, and other members of the team say they were not comfortable working with him in any role".
Or at least, that was the state's initial story. However, he "just sat there and didn't respond" and "seemed confused". It took 38 minutes for officials to send an alert retracting the warning because Hawaii did not have a standardized system for sending such corrections, the FCC said.
What followed was 38 minutes of chaos as residents, tourists and sought shelter in hotel basements, state workers scrambled to undo the message, and Gov. David Ige so he could tell everyone the alert was issued in error.
Other state officials had sent out corrections within a few minutes of being notified by state authorities.
The FCC is still investigating and will issue a final report with its recommendations.
"And the menu contained no ballistic missile defence false alarm option - which has now been added", the newspaper reported.
The new rules from the Federal Communications Commission, which take effect on November 30, 2019, require wireless providers to deliver emergency alerts to a more geographically precise area than before, up to one-tenth of a mile from the target area.