Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Another False Cell Phone Alert

I have received lots of criticism for my opposition to the government's silly cell phone alerting system. The criticism has been, "what could it hurt?"

I think the evidence is piling up rapidly that it was, and is, a bad idea. This was received by Kentuckians yesterday. Of course, the usual suspects are pointing fingers everywhere and no one is taking responsibility. Meanwhile, we have trained the recipients "extreme alert -- prepare for action" is meaningless.

Let me explain, again, my reasons for opposing the government's cell phone alerting system:
  • Emergency managers/FCC, etc., have no special expertise in threat communication. 
  • The technology is not secure (as yesterday demonstrated yet again).
  • The weather notifications are FAR larger than the warning issued by the National Weather Service, increasing the perceptions of false alarms.
  • The notifications run way behind the actual warnings. I have personally received a tornado warning 45 minutes after it was issued. 
  • By promising to provide "life-saving" alerts (words on a billboard I pass on my way to the office), and failing to deliver timely and accurate information, someone could get killed. 
The second comment I hear (pertaining to my opposition) is, "they will get it fixed." They've had years to get it fixed and it is still a mess. At an emergency management meeting on Colorado in June I had lunch with the people in charge of this program. They were, at best, vaguely aware of these problems and completely unaware companies like AccuWeather provide reliable cell phone apps that provide weather warnings. 

The private sector has created apps that already perform these functions and perform them well. I recommend putting AccuWeather's app on your smartphone and turning off the government's weather warnings. 

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