People were throwing their kids into storm drains. Clever, but what happens to them after that?
Where do we go? How long do we have to stay there? Who is going to pass out the iodine pills? Where's the clean water? What will we eat? Who will come get us when it's all over?
It seems like we gave a damn about this many years ago during the Cold War. There were drills in schools, public service messages, people bought bomb shelters, there was the Civil Defense. Once in awhile I see one of those public bomb shelter placards on a building and wonder if there really still is one or if it is just some old artifact someone forgot to take down.
We laugh at all this stuff like ironic hipsters and now we see the results.
The bomb that obliterated Hiroshima was a toy next to a thermonuclear bomb, which is 1000 times as powerful. If one lands on Oahu, there won't be anyone to pass out iodine pills in Hawaii, or anyone to pass them out to.
Hawaii is just stupid to spend a nickel on an early warning system. The only reason it exists is that too many people don't understand what they're supposedly being warned, or that they are utterly defenseless.
Sometimes, the only protection is prevention. This is one.
It seems like there would be a great chance of survivability in many areas if one were properly sheltered. This doesn't even take into account that Oahu is a mountain which would shield many inhabitants from the air blast.
I frankly am glad you are not in charge of the early warning system in Hawaii.
Odds are anyone dumb enough to throw a nuke at the US is doing so with some really cunning plan in mind hoping for retaliation, and doing so with a nuke that's far from optimal. Russia and China are better served by eating up the US economy (and government!), than balls-to-the-wall war, so it's more likely an country that 'also has nukes' than the players with the real budgets.
As someone living in Hawaii, I’m more worried about the aftermath and how people react. More chaos will be caused by them rather than the bomb.
The early warning system also includes messages for tsunamis, amber alerts, landslides, and high surf. I can't imagine the inclusion of a PACOM warning required any significant additional spending.
The assumption that most people have is just that nukes just evaporate people like in Terminator 2. That's not the case for most of the danger zone.
This fascinating book on the topic of preparedness is available for free here: http://www.oism.org/nwss/
It includes a lot of detail, diagrams, and explanations about topics like fallout. Unfortunately many students who become politicians tend to be dramatically misinformed about how nuclear weapons work which leads to some systematically incorrect assumptions that have wide-ranging consequences.
Most of what people believe about nuclear weapons and nuclear technology in general is false.
If large amounts of people feel comfortable with nuclear war breaking out because they have their bomb shelter stocked in the backyard that poses an existential risk for everyone.
While people may overestimate the vaporization radius of a specific bomb we definitely don't want a larger underestimation of the affect of large scale nuclear conflict.
This was kind of the point of the pugwash conference, to remove nuclear weapons from political escalation more generally. If we're not successful at this and it escalates or becomes political that might be the end of it.
“In view of the fact that in any future world war nuclear weapons will certainly be employed, and that such weapons threaten the continued existence of mankind, we urge the governments of the world to realize, and to acknowledge publicly, that their purpose cannot be furthered by a world war, and we urge them, consequently, to find peaceful means for the settlement of all matters of dispute between them.”
The fix was to:
> …In the past three tapes, one for the test and two for actual emergencies, were hanging on three labeled hooks above the transmitter… In the future only the test tape will be left near the transmitter. The two emergency tapes [will be] be sealed in clearly marked envelopes and placed inside a nearby cabinet.
It's as if we lived in a world where bridges have been built for decades with structural engineers as optional, rather than required by building code. If your project had a budget for a structural engineer, you hired one, but if not, fine, you just had your construction contractor do their best.
And so now a bridge just collapsed again (fortunately everyone got off in time) and we're talking about how we really ought to design bridges better, but no one is suggesting the obvious, that we legislate building codes that require structural engineers as part of the bridge-building process.
I know this is a controversial idea, as it opens up the question of UX design certification and licensure (if you require UX for critical infrastructure, what are the qualifications?), which can lead to all sorts of unintended consequences of gatekeeping, exclusion, and administrative bloat. But I think Hawaii makes it clear that the status quo is unsafe and unsustainable.
Or even a "code" like the National Electrical Code, which one would be required to comply with when working on critical infrastructure. That's how electricians apply the safety experience gained from previous unsafe practices.
It's similar to the "A gun is always loaded" principle. Unless you can tell at a glance that a firearm is not in a ready-to-fire state, you treat it as if it is. People are clumsy and forgetful, and you only have to mess up once.
Leaving the live rounds right next to the blanks, in that way, is pretty indefensible. (Ignoring of course that blanks can still kill, for this analogy.)
That's when you need to treat it like it is the most.
Chance you are actually able to say that vs. chance you made a mistake in reasoning that conclusion? Still not a bet worth taking.
The first bullet here is a blank.
Yes, the correct term is indeed 'cartridge'.
I totally agree that the solution should leverage obviation to prevent human error in an emergency, that's what a drill is all about.
Sending an emergency alert isn't an action that requires split-second muscle memory. I think slight deviations in the drill vs. the real thing are fine in this case, in order to prevent false alarms.
There's no one-size-fits-all solution here, you have to analyze the trade-offs around speed and the cost of a false alarm.
That's because they forgot the lesson decades ago. It seems like the 1971 event is a forgotten piece of cold war history. I haven't seen any mention of it in the couple of news articles I read.
> it's interesting that there is a lot of hang up on false negative (false alarm) and very little discussion about a false positive (hitting the test button instead of the real alarm)
We haven't ever had a nuclear missile attack, and even if we had one, there's very little anyone could actually do to protect themselves. The alert seems more of a courtesy than a real actionable warning. The fear and panic of a false alarm are real, though. Also, if there are too many false alarms, they turn into crying wolf and will be ignored.
I'm asking, because if it was truly a drop-down (select element) then the UX would be even worse. At least with a list of links, there is the odd chance that the person would spot the correct choice. Using drop-downs, once the incorrect choice was made, there is really very little chance of realising the error.
I don't know which image is real.
Add spacing and then add more. It won't make it a masterpiece but it'll prevent misclicks and make the UI easier to read and understand.
Also, use headings like "Amber Alerts", "Weather" and "War".
And, use semantic titles like "[TEST] Tsunami" or "ALERT! - Tsunami"
The screenshots are so bad, not even the juniors I work with would consider deploying this. It's mind boggling.
Not defending the UI too much but I'm imagining this is something built and deployed on government contract in the late 90s or early 2000s (when it was considered high technology that they could do this from a web page in the first place?), occasionally migrated to whatever marginally newer system is required by law while consuming the minimal amount of funding.
It's a damn shame but a lot of govt. stuff ends up in this exact boat because nobody wants to pay to improve something that "already works."
Make all tests blue, all real alerts red. A tiny and simple change, but makes such a difference.
EDIT: I decided to create a mockup with only tiny changes:
1. the current version https://s3.kuschku.de/public/01_current.PNG
2. Color-coding added https://s3.kuschku.de/public/02_colors.PNG - already a significant change, with only one line of CSS
3. Semi-Sorted into groups, and always moved drills to the top of the group (so a person searching top-to-bottom finds the drill first): https://s3.kuschku.de/public/03_sorted.PNG
The result is done with 3 lines of CSS, and an additional class on each link. Tiny change, costs you a single-digit dollar amount to implement, and can be so much more effective.
And for certain actions (such as deleting a file or letting a population know an IBCM is coming at them), it could be a good idea to add a msgbox asking "are you sure you want to ? [yes] [cancel]" ^^
I still can't believe how terrible it is.
It has the same feel as a dropdown on a blog.
Nothing of the level of severity is presented. I'd expect such a serious button to be part of a well designed dashboard.
Plus I'd expect it to be an actual button, with colours.
The section of test systems should be separated with distance from live systems.
Developers are designers, some just don't know it.
Missile warning: Everyone flees to basements.
Right next to each other, no way that'll go wrong.
Sounds like they need to prosecute some people for terroristic threats to the fullest extent of the law.
I understand being pissed off about the false alarm, but sending death threats should be an automatic jail sentence at minimum.
I don't think there is exactly the same crime in all the states of the US, but there is in some states (as well as in many other countries) the crime of "false public alarm".
Example, you start crying "Fire!" in a crowded cinema or public place:
P.S.: Meantime in Japan:
but this was not the governemnet, it was the NHK and they were very fast to send a correct message.
Text from your first link even says that:
> A person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he knowingly causes such false alarm [...]
Sure there is a difference, but - again not all states/countries Laws are the same - it may depend on who has to prove that it was a mistake.
And of course it may be classified as an actual crime or as a minor civil infraction.
> TERRORISTIC THREAT
> (a) A person commits an offense if he threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to:
> 2. place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
Terrorism used to mean violence or a real threat of violence committed for political reasons. Now it just means any crime committed by someone whose motives (or whose ethnic group) the speaker disapproves of.
Are they? There are plenty of other ways to do that without (pardon me) going nuclear. Many death threats go so far as to include someone's family, friends, and other acquaintances. If it's mere dissatisfaction being expressed, why go that far if not to put someone in fear?
Bad UX, sure. But that person dun goofed.
Interfaces are always designed by the programmers alone, and they are universally awful.
Heck, several years ago I remember having to learn Blender so I could create 3D models for some simulation software (no one else to do it, guess it's me again -> here have some rockets that look like something out of 1950s scifi). Apparently the folks writing the contract didn't think we'd need anyone with any 3D art skills to create 3D visualization software.
My preference would be a mcDonald's menu style UI, showing the text that will be sent in a 6x5 grid of buttons. Easy to press; easy to see what you're sending; no funky "are you sure" messages that'll be auto-clicked.
Combined with a confirmation dialog like this: https://twitter.com/Ajedi32/status/953303114995597312
The confirmation box however might be dangerous:
If employee panics they might easily fail to get that right resulting in a failure to warn in time.
It's not like the box goes away. You have plenty of time to fix your typing. Not only that, but bad UI is a bad UI problem. Not being able to operate a system correctly under stress is a problem often solved with a combination of tactics, including UI, but also stress management, response, etc.
People who operate ballistic missile systems, defense systems, etc. on a daily basis are pretty well versed with how to handle the situation from a stress level. Anyone sitting behind an Iron Dome console is probably pretty cool under high stress in this exact situation.
By the time you are aware of an incoming icbm I guess every second matter to save as many lives as possible.
> Not being able to operate a system correctly under stress is a problem often solved with a combination of tactics, including UI...
I think we actually agree. I'm not saying training isn't really important. I'm just saying that reading more than one paragraph then typing (including case sensitive text) might be hard when you fear an actual icbm.
Given the cost of a mis-click, I'd also implement a Github-style confirmation box that can't just be subconciously clicked-through ("To confirm that you wish to send a PACOM Alert, type 'pacom alert'").
The system should start with two options: test vs. real alert, which open up separate menus. Those menus should be visually distinct (e.g., different color background, options for former all end in (TEST)".
This all is assuming that falsely sending a test alert is no big deal.
Which is why there are plenty ideas for a better design.
Edit: Also, I guess, there's still some kind of message authenticator, which has to be entered in the process?
They probably viewed this admission of error as being less embarrassing as not knowing that they weren't under attack when Japan released a statement within a few minutes saying it wasn't true. They look even more incompetent in that scenario.
Let me know if I'm being misinformed by low-life YouTube conspirators.
If it takes two people turning two keys to launch a missile, shouldn't it take the same to send a missile warning?
Hell no. A missile launch involves a large expenditure of resources, and (sometimes) lots of destruction. A missile warning should not.
Perhaps they should also add a "false alarm that this was a false alarm, there really is a threat after all" option in case the "false alarm" option is selected accidentally after warning about a real threat. /s
I don't know how anyone in Hawaii can be expected to trust or take these alerts seriously after this.
Having yes/no labels on buttons, or this kind of random labeled links in haphazard order is always bad. Experienced users may not do errors, but their life would still be better if the UX was good. UX is the same as accessibility, if it is good it does not bother you but it can always help, even if you think you do not need it.
Good UX would eliminate any mindless clicking, for example:
* significantly different workflow than the test workflow
* requiring multi-person confirmation
* showing the resulting action with (time-limited) undo
* and more...
No. People are people. They will make mistakes - even smart and experienced individuals.
Interface designer: clearly.
Manager responsible for project: also
The manager's manager: yes
The whole department head: how is this person making decisions?
The people who set the budgets and procedures: How do they know that work is being done well enough?
Vern Miyagi: From decades in the army, your process designers should understand best practices in the design of emergency systems, and yet they clearly did not. Why?
Arthur "Joe" Logan: Same question.
Anyway it goes all the way up, apparently through the military chain of command. So I say Thanks Obama.
Moreover, there is another dimension in that inertia in the org structure itself can't be pinned on any one person. Organizations by their very nature are supposed to be tolerant of changes and gaps in the knowledge of their members. This tolerance leads to inertia. the Inertia of the military is extreme and difficult to change. The more abstraction between the leader and the actual work, the more difficult it is to evaluate and enact the right change in the right way in the right timeframe.
So, while your comment may in essence be right that there is a chain of command failure around this issue, it also strains credibility to claim that this failure belongs to Obama, one year into his successor's presidency, when the structure that this event took place in is much older than either of them.