Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Nuclear Alert System

Blogged about the problem of the false alert in Hawaii the other day.  Kottke has a post showing the actual screen the operator was faced with, and a discussion of some of the issues. I'm stealing the image from him:

This is obviously terrible system design.  What interests me is the haphazard combination of situations.  What I'd guess has happened is someone came up with a state/county alert system, and situations have been added to it.  What's striking is the variety of organizations which can trigger an alert: police can trigger an AmberAlert, weather bureau can generate high surf, USGS can issue the tsunanmi warning, etc.   So there seem to be a bunch of inputs to the one person who then makes the selection, each selection presumably with a different set of addressees and a preset canned message.

I wonder what happens when the person is away from her desk, in the bathroom, on leave, etc.  I have a hard time believing that the desk is manned/womanned 24 hours a day with no lapses. 

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