SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - The City of San Francisco announced Thursday that it will bring back public warning sirens after nearly four years of silence.
San Francisco stopped using the sirens in 2019 "to address serious security vulnerabilities that made the sirens susceptible to being hacked and manipulated," officials said in a press release.
San Francisco plans to spend around $5 million upgrading the system, focusing on cybersecurity and new hardware. The first phase will include a review of the warning system and 119 sirens, and is planned to start within the next six months.
"The recent devastation in Maui was a tragic example of how important emergency notifications to residents, businesses and tourists are, and although we historically have had minimal need to use the sirens in San Francisco, we must be ready when the time comes," Mayor London Breed said in a press release. "This additional tool will bolster our City’s existing comprehensive alert and warning system."
Since the city discontinued its sirens in 2019, it has relied on emergency alerts sent to cellphones and more traditional systems such as radio and television notifications. The most used system, the city said, is AlertSF, which sends users email and text notifications.
Fixing the sirens was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and recent budget constraints, said San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin.
"While I was initially disappointed that this critical investment in our public safety infrastructure was not funded in the City’s Capital Plan, I am delighted that we were able to collaborate and find funds to finally get the Warning System back up and running," Peskin said.