After an errant missile alert sent Hawaiians into a scared frenzy, the state has been told to figure out what went wrong and make sure that never happens again.
Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai told the state that it didn’t have proper safeguards in place to ensure that a notice like that wouldn’t be sent out, engulfing residents in panic.
And, the 38-minute delay on a follow-up notification to ensure the population that all was well, made things worse, Mr Pai said.
This was “absolutely unacceptable,” Mr Pai remarked.
“False alerts undermine public confidence in the alerting system and thus reduce their effectiveness during real emergencies,” the statement continued.
Residents and visitors of the island state were shocked Saturday morning when they received the notification — sent to mobile phones in the area — indicating that a ballistic missile was on-course to hit the state.
The governor of Hawaii, David Ige, later apologised for the incident, and said the whole ordeal was an accident. A state employee, during a shift change, accidentally pressed the wrong button on their way out, Mr Ige said.
A confirmation prompt was not enough to stop the alert from being sent out, investigators have now learned.
In the immediate aftermath of the debacle, Hawaii’s emergency management team has announced changes to the system that they hope will ensure a repeat won’t occur. A second person will now be required to sign off on any alert of that kind before it gets sent, and managers of the system are considering ways to send quicker corrections in the case that another message is sent.
Hawaii, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, has the warning systems installed as a result of its proximity to North Korea, which has regularly threatened hitting the United States with a ballistic missile.