- What is the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS)?
- What Do the American People Need to Do?
When disasters strike, whether they are natural, accidental, or man-made, it has always been vital that alerts and warnings be reported accurately and in a timely fashion to those who may be in danger. It is the policy of the United States to have an effective, reliable, integrated, flexible, and comprehensive system to alert and warn the American people. The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, or IPAWS, is the solution for effective public alerts and warnings.
What is The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System?
IPAWS allows alerting authorities to write their own message using open standards. The message is then authenticated by the IPAWS Open Platform for Emergency Networks, or IPAWS-OPEN, to be delivered simultaneously through multiple communications devices reaching as many people as possible to save lives and protect property. IPAWS must ensure the President can reach the American people, but FEMA recognizes that most alerts and warnings are issued at a state and local level.
In addition to the President, alerting authorities include State, territorial, tribal, and local public safety officials who are designated within their level of government as an authority responsible for communicating emergency alerts and warnings to the public. After completing FEMA-sponsored training, alerting authorities will be authenticated for access to IPAWS. They will then be able to use Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) compliant emergency and incident management tools to create location-specific alerts that are scaled to cover areas as big as their entire jurisdiction or a much smaller area within their jurisdiction. Once created, the alert can then be sent to IPAWS-OPEN for relay to the Emergency Alert System (EAS), Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio and other National Weather Service systems, , and private sector systems. The specific geographic area to which these alerts can then be delivered depends on the capabilities of the dissemination channel used.
IPAWS alerts and warnings are location-specific and, therefore, more relevant to those receiving the alert. Through the use of open standards such as the CAP, IPAWS allows for growth and integration with future consumer technologies. While older systems relied on audio and text-only systems, CAP and IPAWS-OPEN make picture and video feeds possible and allows for the seamless incorporation of emerging technologies.
Once the alert is received from the alerting authorities, IPAWS-OPEN authenticates the source and validates that the alert input conforms to the CAP standard and IPAWS profile. This provides a standard for everyone across all levels of government and the private sector.
Emergency alerts will be delivered across multiple pathways to the American people. Alerts will be delivered by the EAS, using AM, FM, and satellite radio, broadcast, cable, and satellite tTelevision. Wireless Emergency Alerts will broadcast notifications to cell phones and other commercial mobile network devices based on their location, even if cellular networks are overloaded and can no longer support calls, texts, and emails. Wireless Emergency Alerts will not track an individual’s locations or personal data, as it uses SMS-CB, a broadcast (one-way) technology. This assures that authorities cannot collect any subscriber-related data, including details on who is in the targeted area, who has successfully received the emergency alert, or who may have opted out. State, territorial, tribal, and local alerting systems, including emergency telephone networks, giant voice sirens, and digital road signs may receive alerts from IPAWS-OPEN. Future alerting technologies and systems can also be easily integrated into the IPAWS.
When disaster strikes, IPAWS allows emergency managers and alerting authorities at all levels to send one message to more people over more devices, to save lives and protect property. No matter where you are -- at home, at school, at work, or even on vacation, Americans can get life-saving alerts.
What Do The American People Need To Do?
The American people should be prepared for severe weather and other emergencies. Make a plan, have an emergency supply kit for your family. The American people should know how they will be alerted in case of severe weather or other emergencies and respond appropriately to instructions from alerting authorities and public officials once an alert or warning has been issued.
Return to the FEMA IPAWS Home Page.