The software company responsible for issuing an early morning alert to millions of Floridians late last week apologized in a Monday letter and blamed “human errors” for the incident.
Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) quickly responded to the incident last week, saying that he directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie to “bring swift accountability for the test of the emergency alert system in the wee hours of the morning.”
“This was a completely inappropriate use of this system,” the 44-year-old governor said.
I’ve ordered FL Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie to bring swift accountability for the test of the emergency alert system in the wee hours of the morning. This was a completely inappropriate use of this system.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 20, 2023
The Division of Emergency Management fired the software company responsible for the incident, Everbridge, the same day.
Everbridge CEO David Wagner apologized to Floridians for the incident in a letter this week and laid out his version of events.
“If you or anyone you know was awakened by a test alert on your phone at 4:45am ET on Thursday, April 20th, I’m sorry,” said Wagner. “It should not have happened.”
“Human errors caused the alert to go out, in violation of a number of routine precautionary steps that should have been followed prior to the release of any emergency notification,” the letter stated. “Customers who operate our systems run monthly tests, required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), on mobile and broadcast networks to keep you informed. In this instance, our system delivered the message as designed – that’s the good news. The bad news is a live message was inadvertently sent to millions of residents’ cellphones, instead of a notification sent only to Florida broadcasters. That notification should not have been sent to you.”
Wagner said that the scale of the incident has caused the company to reexamine its safeguards and procedures in the hopes of preventing another incident.
“Our job at Everbridge is to give you and all of Florida’s emergency departments, at the state and county level, peace of mind so you can sleep through the night knowing you will be awoken and alerted if there is a hurricane or an imminent life-threatening event,” the letter said. “The last thing we want to do is wake you up when you should be asleep.”
Wagner said that his company will “continue to work with the Florida Division of Emergency Management to provide them with everything they need to keep you safe.”
However, it does not appear that Wagner will get that opportunity as the state has canceled its contract with the company.
“Yes. The Division has terminated the contract with Everbridge early,” said Alecia Collins, communications director for the Division of Emergency Management. “The expiration date was June 2024.”
She added, “We want to stress that while this wake-up call was unwarranted, disasters can happen at any time, and having a way to receive emergency alerts can save lives.”