The Honolulu Civil Beat has tweeted a screenshot of the interface that was used to send an real alert for a nonexistent incoming ballistic missile on Saturday morning.
Instead of selecting “DRILL – PACOM (CDW) – STATE ONLY” from what looks more like a list of headlines on The Drudge Report than a warnings & alerts menu, the operator chose “PACOM (CDW) – STATE ONLY” and sent out a real alert.
The design for this is obviously terrible.
Talk about setting yourself up to fail and fail spectacularly.
The employee made a mistake but it’s not his fault and he shouldn’t be fired for it. The interface is the problem and whoever caused that to happen — the designer, the software vendor, the heads of the agency, the lawmakers who haven’t made sufficient funds available for a proper design process to occur — should face the consequences. More importantly, the necessary changes should be made to fix the problem in a way that’s holistic, resilient, long-lasting, and helps operators make good decisions rather than encouraging mistakes.
(Via Six Colors)
I can’t wait for an in depth professional and academic review of this event. So many basic things went wrong here we can all use this as a reminder to look at the foundations of our emergency response/security incident assumptions, tools, processes, training, etc.