IPAWS and WEA Explained

The recent order by the FCC to change the name of the Commercial Mobile Alert System to Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) is one of many ways that the government is working to make FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) a success.

As a reminder, WEA alerts are short 90-character, text-like messages that alert people in three types of emergency situations; Presidential Alerts issued by the President or a designee, Imminent Threat Alerts that include severe weather or natural disasters, and AMBER Alerts.

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

Cell phone owners with a WEA-capable mobile device physically located in an area where an alert has been sent will have the ability to receive the alert.

How IPAWS WorksIPAWS is an “Alert Aggregator” that passes alerts to various communication systems that then deliver alerts to devices such as cell phones, televisions and radios.

It is important to note that IPAWS does not replace existing methods of mass notification, but instead offers new capabilities.

Access to IPAWS is free, however to send a message using IPAWS, an organization must apply to become an Approved Alerting Authority and procure its own IPAWS compatible mass notification software, such as Rapid Notify. 

The subject of IPAWS comes up often with our customers and it can be a confusing and complicated system to explain. We updated our comprehensive white paper explaining what IPAWS is, what it can do for you, and how it works in connection with the Rapid Notify system. We highly recommend you download the paper today.

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