As technology continues to advance, we are left with a question in regards to the aging technology of outdoor warning sirens. Are they worth it? According to Harvard, IL the answer is no. Harvard joins a growing number of communities across the nation that has recently chosen to no longer invest in the sirens.
This all began back in February of 2019 when the sirens began sounding for no apparent reason - freaking people out. An investigation was launched and it was determined that the systems did not malfunction but rather someone gained access and then activated them.
The official statement from the town is posted below, but in summary, the cost to upgrade and maintain the system does not justify the worth. The existing sirens don't even cover the entire town anyways.
The decision to not continue with the use of sirens may sound surprising at first, but is actually a growing trend in recent years and brings up new debate.
Outdoor warning sirens were first developed as a means to alert to possible enemy attacks back in the WW era. It wasn't until the 'Palm Sunday' outbreak in 1965 that the thought to use them for severe weather was first realized. Back then, communication - and overall knowledge about weather - was not what it is today. Weather radios didn't exist, the internet hadn't been invented, and smart phones certainly weren't around.
These days there is no excuse for someone to not be able to receive weather information right in the palm of their hands. Numerous apps exist to send alerts straight to your phone, and weather radios are more portable and affordable than ever.
Sirens have their use (aside from cool audio in storm chaser video) in alerting people who might not be paying attention outdoors, but they have limitations. They are not designed to be heard inside, and people who rely SOLEY on them will not be alerted. In many cases, they will not wake you up at night. The cost to maintain the systems is a burden for many jurisdictions.
The Harvard case highlights another issue. As technology continues to advance, individuals may have to take on the responsibility of ensuring they can receive warning information as opposed to relying on someone else to activate the sirens - as more and more towns continue to phase them out.