Are You Considering IPAWS?

FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) program provides an internet-based capability for federal, state, territorial, tribal, and local authorities to use in order to issue critical public alerts and warnings.  We are currently in the process of becoming an IPAWS-OPEN Developer.  Several of our customers are in the process of becoming, or have already become, approved IPAWS Alerting Authorities.

Why is this important? IPAWS will not only allow the President of the United States to alert the American people under all conditions, but federal, state, territorial, tribal and local authorities will also have the opportunity to use IPAWS to send warnings within their jurisdiction.  IPAWS improves alert and warning capabilities by allowing alerting authorities to deliver their message from a single portal to multiple communication pathways such as the Emergency Alert System (EAS), the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS), and National Weather Service Dissemination Systems including NOAA Weather Radio.

IPAWS must be accessed through software such as Rapid Notify that meets IPAWS system requirements and there is no additional cost to send messages through IPAWS.

You may have seen our recent article where we covered What You Need to Know About CMAS and WEA.  As a part of FEMA’s IPAWS program and a partnership between the FCC and commercial mobile service providers, alerting authorities will be able to send CMAS alerts to cell phones, even when cellular networks are overloaded and no longer support person-to-person calls, text, or emails. CMAS, in particular, may be of interest for alerting authorities that wish to access the capability to send geographically targeted alerts directly to their constituents via wireless cell broadcast.

Most major commercial mobile service providers are now selling CMAS capable phones with the service already opted-in so that the public does not need to sign up to receive the alerts.  CMAS alerts do not trigger charges for the alerting authority sending the message nor the individual receiving it.

Signing up to become an approved alerting authority is a four-step process.

  1. Select Rapid Notify as your IPAWS compatible software.
  2. Apply for a Memorandum of Agreement with FEMA.
  3. Apply for public alerting permissions. Alerting authorities that want to send alerts to the public through IPAWS must complete an application defining the types of alerts they intend to issue and the extent of their geographic warning area (the application must be reviewed and signed by a designated state official before it is submitted to FEMA).
  4. Complete IPAWS web-based training. FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI) offers a two-hour independent study course, IS-247a Integrated Public Alert and Warning System. The goal of the course is to outline the benefits of using IPAWS for effective public warnings, develop skills to draft appropriate, effective, and accessible warning messages, and other best practices.

Visit the FEMA website to find out more about this process.

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