This past Saturday in Hawaii an ineffective interface for an emergency alerting system led to widespread panic when an employee sent an emergency missile alert by accident instead of a test alert. A picture of the alerting interface has been circulating on social media and simply shows a series of hyperlinks that are clicked to initiate certain alerts, with test alerts with the added word “Drill.”
With a simple interface of similarly-named hyperlinks, it is easy for a mistake to be made and the incorrect link to be clicked. But, in the case of emergency communication, mistakes like this simply cannot happen. When your interface isn't designed in a way that is intuitive, it's easy for mistakes to occur.
In order to avoid such incidents as this in the future, it is important that organizations leverage an emergency alerting system that has a user interface that is optimized for both testing scenarios and real-world alerts. SimplyCast’s emergency communication platform, EmergHub, has been designed with these components in mind.
Knowing that governments and organizations need a system that is able to handle emergency alerts, both in a testing environment and in real-world situations, EmergHub has built in a series of options to ensure these communications are handled in a way that is specific and relevant to any user.
Firstly, EmergHub comes with a fully-customizable communication networking system wherein specific permissions can be granted on an individual or departmental basis. This allows organizations to control who is able to send specific alerts, whether testing or not, or even to set up a completely separate environment for testing scenarios to ensure the wrong message does not get sent.
System administrators can provide each level of account user with only as many permissions as they need to perform their respective tasks, meaning that entry-level employees can be prevented from accidentally launching an alert that causes mass panic and confusion.
Secondly, with EmergHub, alerts can be created ahead of time and templated with distinctive names, so employees can quickly and easily identify the proper message to send and launch it with the click of a button. Valuable time can be saved with clear labeling of alerts and pre-created content, and every second counts during a real-time emergency.
Finally, once the appropriate alert has been sent to contacts, EmergHub’s Command Hub Dashboard can provide a live-updating report as to how many alerts have been sent thus far, as well as any response confirmations have been collected. The ability to request that contacts confirm their receipt of the alert lets you be sure that everyone has received and read the alert message and allows you to determine whether any follow-up messages need to be sent to those who have not responded.
While incidents of incorrect notifications are thankfully few and far in between, whenever a mistake like this happens the public can lose trust in the systems being used to protect them. This can be detrimental in the event of an actual emergency when the public can no longer be 100 percent certain whether the alert is real or simply another false alarm.
To learn more about the EmergHub's emergency alerting system, visit this page on the SimplyCast website, or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.