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Alerting Authorities

This section contains information on IPAWS’s capabilities, who can use IPAWS to send alerts and warnings, and organizations that work with the IPAWS Program Management Office (PMO) to support public alerts and warnings.

FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) is an internet-based capability that federal, state, local, tribal and territorial authorities can use to issue critical public alerts and warnings. See which alerting authorities are approved to use IPAWS in your area.

IPAWS is accessed through software that meets IPAWS system requirements. There is no cost to send messages through IPAWS, although there may be costs associated with acquiring compatible alert origination software. IPAWS is not mandatory and does not replace existing methods of alerting, but instead complements existing systems and offers new capabilities.

Monthly Proficiency Demonstrations

The Mandatory Monthly Proficiency Demonstration Program, along with other IPAWS PMO initiatives, are being implemented to increase IPAWS user proficiency and reduce alerting errors. Each enabled alerting authority operating under an IPAWS agreement must demonstrate their ability to compose and send a message through the IPAWS-OPEN system at regular intervals. Such demonstration must be performed monthly through generation of a successful message sent through the IPAWS-OPEN Training and Demonstration environment (IPAWS LAB Cloud).

The below guidance applies to sending a successful controlled test message via an alerting authority's Alert Originating software to the IPAWS Lab Cloud environment:

•     Alerting Authorities, otherwise known as Collaborative Operating Groups (COGs) may conduct their Proficiency Demonstration at their own discretion at any date/time within a calendar month.
•     The message must be for EAS and/or WEA, depending on your COG’s approved alerting permissions. If a COG is approved for both channels (EAS/WEA), then both channels must be tested simultaneously if your alert origination software provides the capability.
•     The Demo message status must be set to “Actual”. Use of “Test” or “Exercise” status will result in the message not posting to the simulated WEA and EAS feeds in IPAWS Lab and not be counted as a successful Demo.
•     The Proficiency Demonstration message (EAS Description/WEA 90-character message text) shall be as follows: “TEST TEST TEST. This is a Proficiency Demonstration Test Message. No action is required.”
•     COGs may use any approved event code for the Demo message. Neither additional message content nor use of a geotargeting polygon will be evaluated. (It is not necessary nor recommended that COGs to use the RMT – Required Monthly Test event code as that is specific to broadcast and cable EAS.)
•     The IPAWS Message Viewer can provide alert originators with confirmation of whether the Demo message was successful if used within 24 hours of sending a Demo message:

Please note -

•     ***Live messages sent to the production environment WILL NOT be considered for Monthly Proficiency Demonstration scoring.
•     IF a COG misses a single Monthly Proficiency Demo they will receive a reminder from FEMA.
•     IF a COG misses two consecutive Monthly Proficiency Demos both they and their state IPAWS Reviewing Authority will be notified.
•     IF a COG misses THREE CONSECUTIVE Monthly Proficiency Demos they will LOSE ACCESS to the IPAWS Live Production Environment and not be able to use IPAWS for public alerting until such a time as they complete a successful Monthly Proficiency Demo.

Organizations with Alerting Authority Complete and In Process

There are more than 1,400 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial authorities that can use IPAWS to issue critical public alerts and warnings, and many more authorities that are in the process of obtaining the ability to issue alerts and warnings using IPAWS.

Click here to see lists of organizations with alerting authority completed and in process

IPAWS Offers New Capabilities

FEMA built IPAWS to ensure that under all conditions the President of the United States can alert and warn the American people. Federal, state, local, tribal and territorial authorities also have the opportunity to use IPAWS to send alerts and warnings within their jurisdictions. IPAWS improves alert and warning capabilities by allowing alerting authorities to deliver alerts simultaneously through multiple communications devices reaching as many people as possible to save lives and protect property. These communication pathways include:

WEAs, in particular, generate tremendous interest among alerting authorities that wish to send geographically targeted alerts via wireless cell broadcasts. Through a partnership between the Federal Communications Commission, FEMA and commercial mobile service providers, alerting authorities are able to send WEAs -- even when cellular networks are overloaded and can no longer support person-to-person calls, texts, or emails. Many commercial mobile service providers sell WEA-capable phones with the service already opted-in so that the public does not need to sign up to receive the alerts. WEAs do not incur charges for the alerting authority sending the message or the individual receiving the WEA.

IPAWS also enables the interoperable exchange of messages between government organizations to enhance situational awareness and collaboration. Government organizations choose incident management software that best fits their needs and can exchange messages with other IPAWS alerting authorities, as long as each software system is compatible with IPAWS, and each organization has established an IPAWS account.

Who Can Sign Up to Send Alerts on IPAWS?

Federal, state, tribal, and local laws determine which public safety officials are granted the authority to alert the public of emergency situations. Specific authorities may be designated in a state’s emergency communications plans, such as the state’s Emergency Alert System plan and America's Missing: Broadcasting Emergency Response (AMBER) Alert plan. Generally, eligible organizations are:

  • Federal Agencies
  • State Governments
  • Local Governments
  • Territorial Governments
  • Tribal Governments

Other public or private sector organizations may be eligible depending on their public safety mission.

Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Program Management Office (PMO) Partners

The IPAWS PMO’s partners are divided into five major functional groups: (1) the American people; (2) federal governance; (3) federal, state, local, tribal and territorial alerting authorities (alerting authorities); (4) private-sector industry; and (5) non-profit and advocacy organizations.

The IPAWS PMO collaborates with recognized government organizations, industry leaders, and technical experts to ensure that IPAWS incorporates the latest technology and is practical for prospective users. The IPAWS PMO also works with all partner groups to: (1) detail what the partner needs to know about IPAWS and how it affects and can benefit them; (2) openly and collegially discuss program benefits, limitations, and solutions for emerging technologies; (3) create opportunities to solicit authentic feedback; and (4) provide partners with opportunities, training, guidance, and tools to enable them to collaborate with and participate in IPAWS for the purpose of accomplishing a shared goal of creating “an effective, reliable, integrated, flexible, and comprehensive system to alert and warn the American people.”

Access the IPAWS Toolkit for Alerting Authorities and IPAWS Adoption Checklist for Alerting Authorities.

Last Updated: 
04/30/2020 - 15:30