Hawaii woman claims boyfriend suffered heart attack after false ballistic missile alert

Ann Santiago
January 19, 2018

So, the next time you're building an app, site, or missile alert system, ask yourself the following question: is it all too easy for my users to make mistakes because of the way my product is designed? Selecting that option will send an alert to every mobile phone in Hawaii, warning recipients to "seek immediate shelter" - and specifically noting that "this is not a drill".

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also posted to Twitter soon after the initial alert, reassuring citizens that she has confirmed with officials that "there is no incoming missile" and told CNN's Jake Tapper the alert was "inadvertent".

Days earlier, Hawaii's emergency authorities sent a mistaken warning of a missile attack to mobile phones across the state, triggering mass panic.

At 8:07am the message alerting people to an inbound ballistic missile was sent to the TVs, radios and cellphones of everyone on the island. It advised recipients to take shelter and stressed that "this is not a drill". The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (EMA) later admitted the mistake was made during a shift change by an employee who accidentally pressed the wrong notification from a drop-down menu.

That nothing of the sort occurred in the case of Hawaii bears underlining: this was entirely due to human error and poor software interface design at a state-level emergency management agency.

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during the system's first operational test at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii on October 5, 2011.


Hirono says "this had the potential for being totally catastrophic".

President Donald Trump did not make any public comments about the false alert on Saturday. He also took emergency management officials to task for taking 30 minutes to issue a correction, prolonging panic.

She also says the Department of Homeland Security is examining how the USA government can quickly verify the accuracy of alerts with agencies such as the Department of Defense.

Schatz says he expects reports from several federal agencies, along with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to be released sometime in the next few months.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige on Monday appointed state Army National Guard Brig.

"[It's] truly unlikely, given our new system, given our new protocols in place, and just given the way that Vermont uses the system", said Bornemann.

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