The state can't agree on what the missile alert interface actually looks like

Officials release image of HIEMA screen where false missile alert was triggered
Published: Jan. 16, 2018 at 2:38 AM HST|Updated: Jan. 16, 2018 at 8:49 PM HST
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Image of menu screen provided Monday night by the Governor's office. (Image: HIEMA)
Image of menu screen provided Monday night by the Governor's office. (Image: HIEMA)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Monday night, the governor's office released an image of what it said was the interface used to send a false missile alert to Hawaii smart phones.

The confusing and seemingly rudimentary design quickly grabbed headlines nationally.

But a day later, the state's emergency management agency is disputing that image — and has released a different one.

Officials from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said the first image was sent in error, but declined to provide an actual photo of the interface.

Instead on Tuesday, they gave Hawaii News Now something they said was similar to the actual interface, and it included a drop down menu — not a list of possible real and test alerts.

The revelation was another chapter in what some have called a frustrating (and, at times, downright bizarre) response to Saturday's false alarm about an inbound ballistic missile.

Richard Rapoza, emergency management agency spokesman, said of the newly-released image: "This is a close facsimile. The operator should have selected the 'DRILL-PACOM (DEMO)' option, but instead clicked on the 'PACOM (CDW)' option."

The first image was released Monday, just before the governor held a rare, statewide address to again apologize for the false alarm blunder.

The image, provided to the governor's office by the emergency management agency, showed a screen with a list of options for alerts.

The governor's office said it was nearly identical to the one the employee who inadvertently sent out the false alert would have seen. The biggest difference? The image included the option to send out a false alarm correction alert to phones, if a mistake is made again.

When asked Tuesday why the image was different than the one provided by Hawaii Emergency Management, the governor's office directed Hawaii News Now back to the agency.

And the agency said an employee who wasn't authorized to provided the first photo.

One thing is for certain: There is no physical button to press that triggers a ballistic missile alarm and the "False Alarm BMD (CEM) - STATE ONLY" option was not there on Saturday — when it was needed most. Officials implemented that option soon after Saturday's mistake.

Separately, the emergency management agency continues to maintain that in order for the false alert to be triggered, the employee — who has since been reassigned — had to click "yes" on a second confirmation page.

The false alert went out to Hawaii's 1.4 million residents and hundreds of thousands of visitors on Saturday morning, triggering widespread panic.

Since Saturday's false alarm, Gov. Ige has vowed a false alert "won't happen again." He has also assigned Brig. Gen. Kenneth S. Hara, the state's deputy adjutant general, to review the emergency management system and implement improvements.

• 'After false missile alert, some Hawaii businesses threw customers out
• Here's what to do in the event of an actual nuclear attack
• Fearing inbound missile, many uttered what they thought might be their last words
• Terrifying': False ballistic missile threat sends Hawaii into panic
• WATCH: Ige says false missile threat alarm was result of someone pushing wrong button

This story will be updated. 

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