IF YOU are of a certain age, then the sounds of emergency sirens probably gives you a cold war shiver as a reminder of a time of heavy social and political unrest, risk of terrorist attack on the UK mainland, and that Russia could start World War III.
Oh. Yeah. Like now in fact.
So imagine if you're a resident of Dallas and were just settling down to sleep on Friday night, and you heard the death wail of all 156 sirens across Dallas had been triggered.
And then again.
Turns out, a hacker had found their way into the computer control system and set the alarms to repeat 60 times during the night. The first wave was at 11.42pm on Friday night and it wasn't until 1.17an on Saturday that authorities managed to stop the din.
Rocky Vaz, the director of Dallas Office of Emergency Management, said that the hacker was definitely local, but hasn't been found yet.
Although the sounding of the sirens may have seemed like a harmless albeit ostentatious prank, there's a lot of issues at stake here.
Firstly, the sirens are usually used to warn citizens of tornados and earthquakes, meaning that citizens need to have complete faith in the system or it won't be as effective if there's a real need for evacuation.
Then, of course, there's the small fact that it did scare the bejesus out of citizens who then called 911 (not the erstwhile boy band), blocking the system. USA Today reports that at one point, callers were being put on hold for 6 minutes. The usual response time is more like 10 seconds.
Dallas spokeswoman Sana Syed said the 911 system received over 4,400 calls in the four hour period between 11.30pm and 3.00am, twice the number they would normal expect in eight hours. And given the sirens were only going off for the first couple of hours, that means the concentration was likely even higher. µ
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