FCC: Failure of US Nuclear Alarm Shows Need For Emergency Message Safeguards

© WikipediaSatellite picture of the island of Hawaii
Satellite picture of the island of Hawaii - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – On January 13, it took Hawaii authorities at least 38 minutes to retract an emergency telephone text notice of an "INBOUND BALLISTIC MISSILE" that ended with the words, "THIS IS NOT A DRILL."

The 38 minutes of panic felt by people in the US state of Hawaii after a false missile warning illustrates the need for safeguards in emergency messaging systems, US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai said in a speech to a coalition of first responders on Thursday.

"We want to find out exactly what happened and how to make sure that it never happens again" Pai said. “Based on the information we’ve collected so far, it appears that the incident was caused both by human error and by the state of Hawaii not having reasonable safeguards in place to prevent that human error from leading to the transmission of a false alert."

Panic button - Sputnik International
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"We shouldn’t minimize the panic felt by many Americans who — for up to 38 minutes — believed that they might have only minutes to live,” Pai said.

Pai also recalled a video of a parent attempting to place a child in a storm drain, adding, “It must have been searing for parents to experience that kind of fear with their children."


Emergency warning systems of all kinds need to be designed with appropriate safeguards and redundancies to make sure that a single point of failure does not produce catastrophic results, Pai warned.

Hawaii is well within range of ballistic missiles developed by North Korea, which has threatened to arm rockets with nuclear warheads to attack the United States.

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