Disruptions caused by false alarms may result in public panic, which often initiates actual disasters. Moreover, the suspension of services and the evacuation of public environments because of false alerts unnecessarily paralyse commerce and personal endeavours.
A 1992 study shows the number of suspect package alerts in the London Underground quadrupled to 2,004 from 1990 to 1991. The majority of disruptions to the functioning of the Underground in 1991 were caused by 3,750 false alarms. Of the 1,000 evacuations that year, only 274 were caused by actual fires, all of which lasted no more than 3 minutes. The study estimates the cost of disruption at Â£15 million a year in lost working time (Â£10 million from fire reports and Â£5 million from suspect packages).
The cost of reacting to false alarms is worth the potential reality of danger.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.