When I went into the CBD the other day, I noticed the message "This is a test of the CBD emergency warning system" scrolling on a fixed electronic board. It occurred to me that they would need to have a few people out and about in the city to check all the boards, and wouldn't it have been nice if they could have tailored the message to something a little more "useful" - certainly it shouldn't have mattered what the words were as long as they were there. The next time I thought about the system was last night, when a power failure blacked out a large portion of the CBD. At least, I thought, the emergency warning system would be useful in advising people of ... well, I wasn't totally sure "what" but it was an option. Ahem. Perhaps not. It seems the emergency warning system runs on power and there is no back-up, but, not to worry, we were advised, because even if the system had been working, it wouldn't have been used because it wasn't ... a terrorist attack. The outage was caused by a "fault" in a 132,000 volt power cable - but no remedial action could be taken until the power authorities determined which one (of four possibiles). The cause of the "fault" appears to have not yet been made public - but at least we know it wasn't a terrorist attack - otherwise the emergency warning system would have been used ... Mind you, and it's obviously a moot point,wouldn't it have been reassuring it the system could have been used to advise people that it wasn't a terrorist attack?
An SMS alert informing 2400 building wardens of the blackout did get out - after 40 or so minutes, and after most buildings had been evacuated.
(Information taken in part from an Exclusive in today's The Daily Telegraph.)