FCC: State 'did not have reasonable safeguards' to prevent false alarm

FCC: State 'did not have reasonable safeguards' to prevent false alarm
When the alarm went off, Foodland Pupukea herded people into a food storage basement and locked the doors.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Sunday called the state's missile alert mistake 'unacceptable' and said, based on the preliminary results of the agency's investigation into the incident, that it appeared "the government of Hawaii did not have reasonable safeguards or process controls in place to prevent the transmission of a false alert."

In the hours immediately following Saturday's blunder, which sent hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors into a state of panic, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the agency would be launching a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the false alarm.

A statement released by Pai on Sunday morning reflected that an investigation was already underway.

"(The false alert) caused a wave of panic across the state—worsened by the 38-minute delay before a correction alert was issued," said Pai. "Moreover, false alerts undermine public confidence in the alerting system and thus reduce their effectiveness during real emergencies."

State officials said Saturday that the mass hysteria surrounding the false alarm was the result of human error; a Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee 'pushed the wrong button' during a shift change, not fully realizing the magnitude of his error until he received the emergency alert on his own personal cellular phone.

After the mistake, it took the state nearly 40 minutes before they were able to send out a corrective alert to Hawaii cell phones signaling their own error.

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"Moving forward, we will focus on what steps need to be taken to prevent a similar incident from happening again," said Pai. "Federal, state, and local officials throughout the country need to work together to identify any vulnerabilities to false alerts and do what's necessary to fix them."

"We also must ensure that corrections are issued immediately in the event that a false alert does go out," he added.

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