"BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."
That was the message Hawaii residents received Saturday morning through mobile push alerts. The warning was also seen on TV and broadcast over the radio.
But the missile never came - Hawaii Gov. David Ige said that a human error caused the message to be mistakenly sent out.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai says the agency is investigating why the alert was sent in the first place.
Could something like that happen in Nevada? Adrienne Abbot, the state's Emergency Alert System Chair says that it's "a remote possibility."
"It is at the top of our minds whenever we are asked to send an emergency activation, whether it’s an AMBER Alert or an Evacuation Warning or any other message," she wrote in a statement to the press.
Abbot also explained that Hawaii officials used a program called a Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) to issue the warning about the missile attack. The CAP program is established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and lets state and local emergency, law enforcement, and public safety officials issue alerts.
(In Nevada's case, our CAP program was developed by an Idaho-based company called AlertSense.)
All Nevada broadcasters - be it radio, television, or internet providers - conduct regular tests of the emergency alert system, according to Abbot. The tests do not come from the broadcasters themselves. Rather, they are launched by local officials who are authorized to use the AlertSense CAP program. These officials have a "training bed" that lets them send alerts during a drill without those messages being seen by the public.
That narrows down the possibilities on where the message came from in Hawaii. But we still have mixed information on what exactly happened. Gov. Ige says that an employee "pushed the wrong button" during a shift change. But the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) believes the message was "possibly a hack" or a "very sick joke."