HECO Hack

The 6.6 magnitude earthquake that shook Hawaii on Sunday didn’t cause a tsunami, but the island-wide Honolulu blackout that followed has prompted a wave of questions and criticisms for Hawaiian Electric. The utility has now revealed, for example, that the system was not brought down automatically by cautious computers, but by human operators reacting to seismic alarms.

The power outage has sparked the birth of a new blog, Citizens Helping Officials Respond to Emergencies (CHORE). The author is Doug Carlson, PR consultant and former reporter. If anyone might have unique insight into how HECO handled the earthquake and its aftermath, he would — he was also HECO’s manager of corporate communications and spokesman during several earier island-wide power outages.

Carlson is also behind the Tsunami Lessons blog, created one week after the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and focused on the emergency preparedness of U.S. agencies and their readiness for future tsunamis. But CHORE clearly hits closer to home.

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