Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Making lemonade out of lemons wrt Hawaii's false ballistic missile emergency warning

In the 1950s and 1960s, the US had a very active program for promoting "civil defense" and creating a system of shelters in urban areas to help the nation respond to the threat of nuclear war.  "Robert Blakeley, Who Created a Sign of the Cold War, Dies at 95," New York Times.

In recent coverage of the ability of citizens to deal with an earthquake in Mexico, much was made of the fact that Mexico City held their annual earthquake emergency drill just two hours before ("Hours after an earthquake drill in Mexico City, the real thing struck," CNN), so that people were well prepared to deal with an actual earthquake. From the article:
Each year on September 19, cities across Mexico stage emergency disaster simulations and evacuations that bring people out in droves. The drill falls on the anniversary of an 8.0-magnitude earthquake that shook Mexico's capital in 1985, burying nearly 10,000 people amid its rubble.

The annual drill began in Mexico City around 11 a.m. on Tuesday, just like it does every year. The alert went out over radio, television, phones and public loud speakers. People left homes, offices and shops and headed to designated safe areas promoted days ahead of time. ...

The irony of the situation was apparent to Mexicans, for whom the drills are a way of life, even a minor annoyance. Many noted the contrast between the orderly, almost mundane quality of some drills and the chaos of real life.
Hawaii nuclear missile warning. While there is no question that Hawaiians had to be terrified ("'This Is Not A Drill': A False Ballistic Missile Alert Shakes Hawaii," NPR) by the false warning of an incoming ballistic missile--likely from North Korea--why not try to make lemonade from the failure?  From the article:
Hawaii residents and tourists alike were shaken shortly after 8 a.m. local time Saturday when a push notification alerted those in the state to a missile threat, causing an immediate panic until officials confirmed it was a false alarm.
"BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL," read the message, which also blared across Hawaiian televisions stations.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, confirmed the false alarm on Twitter 12 minutes after the errant message was sent. But it took about 38 minutes for another push notification to arrive on phones declaring there was no real danger. ...

In a televised press conference, Vern Miyagi, the agency's administrator, apologized and said the false alarm was caused by a "human error," when the wrong button was pushed during a shift-change drill.

"It was a procedure that occurs at the change of shift where they go through to make sure that the system, that it's working," Gov. David Ige told reporters. "And an employee pushed the wrong button." These shift changes happen three times a day, every day of the year, he added.
What about instituting nuclear missile disaster drills in the west?  This sounds crazy, but by instituting emergency drills in the Western states most at threat from such a terror, not only would people be better educated about what to do in case of a dire emergency (and yes, when I was an 8 year old, I sent away for a Civil Defense brochure on how to build a backyard bomb shelter), but wouldn't it put greater pressure on the federal government to engage with North Korea?

Or is this a sign of weakness?  OTOH, it could be argued that instituting such drills would "weaken" the perception of US superiority, which would be used against North Korea to try to get them to stand down from the posturing and other threats they've been making.

OTOH/2, preparedness demonstrates the country's ability to ward off, withstand, and respond to such threats.

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At 4:38 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Richard Layman said...

Also an example of bad "user interface" design:


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