Preliminary FCC Report on False Hawaii Alert Released
Tuesday, January 30, 2018 | Comments

The FCC released a preliminary report on the Jan. 13 false alert of an imminent ballistic missile attack in Hawaii. The report included three preliminary findings.

A combination of human error and inadequate safeguards contributed to the transmission of the false alert. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) lack of preparation for how to respond to the transmission of a false alert was largely responsible for the 38-minute delay in correcting the alert. HI-EMA has taken steps designed to ensure that an incident such as this never happens again.

The FCC interviewed stakeholders including HI-EMA employees, representatives of other emergency management agencies around the country, alerting software vendors including the vendor that supplies HI-EMA and wireless service providers.

The commission said it will continue its investigation and issue a final report, including recommended measures to safeguard against false alerts and to mitigate their harmful effects if they do occur. Following the final report, the FCC will partner with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to engage in stakeholder outreach and encourage the implementation of best practices. Federal, state and local officials must work together to prevent such a false alert from happening again, the report said.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the two most troubling things found in the investigation so far are that HI-EMA didn’t have reasonable safeguards in place to prevent human error from resulting in the transmission of a false alert, and the agency didn’t have a plan for what to do if a false alert was transmitted.

“Every state and local government that originates alerts needs to learn from these mistakes,” Pai said. “Each should ensure that it has adequate safeguards in place to prevent the transmission of false alerts, and each should have a plan in place for how to immediately correct a false alert.”

The full presentation is here.

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