Better Software Design Ideas for the Hawaii Emergency Alert System

Continuing the discussion on the Hawaii Missile Alert which made headlines in January 2018 and turned out to be a false alarm and ended up raising panic amongst almost a million people of the state all for nothing, (read here for detailed report) I would like to bring back the focus on implications of poor software design leading to such human errors.

Better software design is aimed at making the software easier to use, fit for its purpose and improving the overall experience of the user. While software design focuses on making all features easily accessible, understandable and usable, it also can be directed at making the user aware of all possibilities and implications before performing their actions. Certain actions, if critical, can and should be made more discrete than the others, may have added security or authorisations and visual hints indicating their critical nature.

Some of the best designers at came together to brainstorm ideas for better software design and to revamp the Hawaii government’s inept designs. They ran a contest amongst themselves to come up with the best designs that could avoid such a fiasco in future.

Sarah Danseglio, from East Meadow, New York, took home the $150 grand prize, while Renan M. of Brazil and Lyza V. of the Philippines scored $100 and $75 for coming in 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

Here is a sneak peek into how they designed the improved system :

Winning Design by Sarah Danseglio


First RUnner Up - Renan M
First Runner Up – Design by Renan M
Second Runner Up Lyza
Second Runner Up – Design by Lyza

Some more designs that deserve special mention — >

Design by charlesmoss89 from United States


Design by talktodevid from India

1 (1)

Design by joey199 from United States


Here is the press release featuring more designs that stood out!

Special Thanks to Kevin Lai ( for running this awesome contest and sharing these designs with me.

These designs are so much better, aren’t they? And the government wouldn’t even need to fork over tens of thousands of dollars to get them!

Let us encourage all software teams to look at better software designs, open their perspective to the real world use of the software when developing it and the implications of poor design practices on the real users before releasing the software out to the world!

Let us keep learning and improving!



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