- IPAWS offers new capabilities
- Who can sign up for IPAWS?
- How to sign up for IPAWS
- Homeland Security Grant Program
- Attend a Webinar or Conference
- Federal, State, Territorial, Tribal, Alerting Authorities Partners
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. In order to see which alerting authorities are approved for using IPAWS for public alerting in your area, view the IPAWS Alerting Authorities web page.
IPAWS is accessed through software that meets IPAWS system requirements and there is no cost to send messages through IPAWS, although there may be costs associated with acquiring compatible software. IPAWS is not mandatory and does not replace existing methods of alerting, but instead offers new capabilities.
IPAWS offers new capabilities
FEMA is building IPAWS to ensure that under all conditions the President of the United States can alert and warn the American people. However, 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. These pathways include:
- Emergency Alert System (EAS)
- Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)
- National Weather Service Dissemination Systems including National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration (NOAA) Weather Radio
- Unique Systems
- Future Systems
WEA, 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. Through a partnership between the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), FEMA, and commercial mobile service providers, alerting authorities will be able to send Wireless Emergency Alerts, even when cellular networks are overloaded and no longer support person-to-person calls, text, or emails. Commercial mobile service providers will sell WEA capable phones with the service already opted-in so that the public does not need to sign up to receive the alerts. Wireless Emergency Alerts do not trigger charges for the alerting authority sending the message nor the individual receiving it.
IPAWS also enables the interoperable exchange of messages between government organizations to enhance situational awareness and collaboration. Government organizations are free to choose incident management software that best fits their needs. Organizations using different software can exchange messages as long as each system is compatible with IPAWS and each organization has established an IPAWS account.
Who can sign up for IPAWS?
Public officials are granted the authority to alert the public of emergency situations through federal, state, and local laws. Specific authorities may be designated in state Emergency Alert System, America's Missing: Broadcasting Emergency Response (AMBER) Alert, or other emergency operations plans. Generally, eligible organizations are:
- Federal Agencies
- State Government Organizations
- Local Government or Public Safety Organizations
- Tribal Governments
- Territorial Governments
Other public or private sector organizations may be eligible depending on their public safety mission.
How to sign up for IPAWS
A federal, state, local, tribal or territorial alerting authority that applies for authorization to use IPAWS is designated by IPAWS as a Collaborative Operating Group or “COG.” A COG may have members from multiple organizations (e.g., a regional mutual aid organization) with each individual member account administered through its software system.
Step #1 – Select IPAWS compatible software
Access to IPAWS is free; however to send a message using IPAWS, an organization must procure its own IPAWS compatible software. Software should be successfully tested in the in the IPAWS-Open Platform Emergency Notification (OPEN) test environment. Consult your software developer to ensure your system is IPAWS-OPEN compatible. Or, for a list of private sector developers, see:
Step #2 – Apply for a Memorandum of Agreement with FEMA
To request a COG, a Memorandum of Agreement governing system security must be executed between the sponsoring organization and FEMA. Each Memorandum Of Agreement (MOA) is specifically tailored to the sponsoring organization and interoperable software system. Please download the following MOA application, review the instructions, complete and return to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate in the subject line of the email “COG Application.”
Step #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 for IPAWS Public Alerting Authority will be provided when you apply for a COG MOA, along with contact information for a designated state reviewer. In order to ensure consistency with state public alerting plans, the application must be reviewed and signed by a designated state official before it is submitted to FEMA.
Step #4 – Complete IPAWS web-based training
FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI) offers the independent study course, IS-247a Integrated Public Alert and Warning System. The goal of the course is to provide authorized public safety officials with:
- Increased awareness of the benefits of using IPAWS for effective public warnings
- Skills to draft appropriate, effective, and accessible warning messages
- Best practices in the effective use of Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) to reach all members of their communities
The course should take approximately two hours to complete and is a prerequisite for full access to IPAWS OPEN for the purpose of public alerting. FEMA does not provide training on third-party authoring software. Contact your vendor for any software support questions.
Completing the application
The FEMA COG Coordinator will prepare and return the MOA for signature after it is submitted. After being signed by the applicant, the MOA will be routed for FEMA signatures. Once executed, a COG identification and digital certificate will be generated and implemented in IPAWS-OPEN. A copy of the executed MOA and COG Identification (ID) will be returned to the sponsoring organization. Additionally, the COG ID and digital certificate will be provided in order to configure the IPAWS compatible software system. Once the Public Alerting Application and web-based training is complete, specific alerting permissions will be implemented in IPAWS-OPEN. At that point the individual members specified by the COG will be able to send alerts and warnings in the geographically prescribed areas.
Initial functionality includes:
- Capability to exchange standards-compliant messages and content between COGs
- Access to the Emergency Alert System
- Access to the National Weather Service (NWS) All-Hazards Emergency Message Collection System (HazCollect) for NWS-approved alerting authorities
- Access to the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), depending on local implementation by commercial mobile service providers.
See the IPAWS Alerting Authorities web page for a list of emergency management organizations with access to IPAWS for public alerting.
Homeland Security Grant Program
Information on the 2012 Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) and the associated IPAWS 2012 HSGP Supplemental Guidance is provided to assist state, territorial, tribal, and local governments with preparing documentation for the acquisition of common alert protocol compliant public alert and warning equipment, as well as training, exercise, and alert and warning outreach activities. Funding from the Homeland Security Grant Program, Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program, the Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program, and the Emergency Operations Center Grant Program can be used to enhance existing or establish new alert and warning programs.
Presently, FEMA does not provide grants to private entities and/or businesses. Private entities and businesses are encouraged to coordinate their requests with their Statewide Interoperable Coordinator, the statewide interoperability governing body, and/or the appropriate stakeholders at the state, territory, tribal, and local levels of government. Interested parties are also encouraged to review posted entries at Grants.gov for additional possible funding opportunities.
Please contact the IPAWS Program Management Office (PMO) at email@example.com prior to initiating alert and warning program activities if you have any questions.
Attend a Webinar or Conference
Public safety officials are invited to participate in monthly practitioner webinars, usually the first Wednesday of the month at 12:00 PM Eastern time. Subscribe to the practitioner E-mail list to receive Webinar invitations. See the IPAWS Working Group schedule for current announcements.
In addition, the IPAWS team participates in a wide variety of industry conferences, events, and town hall meetings. Please visit our Events page for more information.
Federal, State, Territorial, Tribal, Alerting Authorities Partners
- International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM)
- National Emergency Managers Association (NEMA)
- Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO)
- Community Emergency Preparedness Information Network (CEPIN)
- International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
- International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
- National Emergency Number Association (NENA)
- Regional Emergency Communications Coordination Working Group (RECCWG)
- State Emergency Communications Committees (SECC)
- State Homeland Security and Emergency Management Offices
- The Weather Channel
- U.S. First Responders Association
- Various Urban Area Security Initiatives (UASIs)
Return to the FEMA IPAWS Home Page.