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Integrated Public Alert & Warning System

The Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS) is FEMA's national system for local alerting that provides authenticated emergency and life-saving information to the public through mobile phones using Wireless Emergency Alerts, to radio and television via the Emergency Alert System, and on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Weather Radio.


News & Updates

IPAWS enables alert originators to embed web addresses (Uniform Resource Locators or "URLs") into Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs). URLs can link to information that typically wouldn't fit in a WEA, such as: more detailed instructions, multimedia, alternate languages, and links to content for those with disabilities and access and functional needs.

Some alerting authorities have faced challenges including URLs in alerts. In this webinar, Jody Smith of IPAWS Engineering, and Sgt. Ed Bertola of the California Highway Patrol offer practical recommendations and an alerting demonstration from the IPAWS Lab.

Download a recording of this webinar, and view previous IPAWS webinars.

Find documents for developing consistent public alerting policies and procedures, including:

  • IPAWS Lab Fact Sheet
  • IPAWS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  • IPAWS Train the Trainer Guidance

How IPAWS Sends Alerts

IPAWS allows Alerting Authorities to write their own message using commercially available software that is Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) compliant. The message is then delivered to the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, Open Platform for Emergency Networks (IPAWS OPEN), where it is authenticated and then delivered simultaneously through multiple communication pathways. Through IPAWS, one message is created to reach as many people as possible to save lives and protect property.

Utilizing multiple pathways for public alerts increases the likelihood that the message will successfully reach the public. IPAWS is structured to facilitate this functionality.

The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) - Open Platform for Emergency Networks (OPEN) architecture diagram. Using a Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) compliant software tool, alerting authorities create a message and send to IPAWS - OPEN. IPAWS - OPEN then routes the message to private industry infrastructure for dissemination as a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA), through the Emergency Alert System (EAS), through NOAA Weather Radio, through Internet Based Services, and Unique Alerting Systems.

Communication Pathways

The Emergency Alert System (EAS) delivers alerts via AM, FM and satellite radio, as well as broadcast, cable and satellite TV.

Cell phones and mobile devices receive Wireless Emergency Alerts based on location, even if cellular networks are overloaded and can no longer support calls, text and emails.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) delivers alerts through NOAA Weather Radio.

Alerts are also available from internet service providers and unique system developers.

State, local, territorial, and tribal alerting systems such as emergency telephone networks, giant voice sirens, and digital road signs may also receive alerts from IPAWS-OPEN, and future alerting technologies and systems can easily be integrated into IPAWS.

IPAWS Tools by Audience

Whether you're sending, receiving, developing or communicating about alerts, find the tools you need for your role in the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System.

alert - info

Have a Question?
Email us at ipaws@fema.dhs.gov or call (202) 212-2040

About the IPAWS Program

FEMA established the IPAWS program in 2006 by Presidential Executive Order 13407. Today there are more than 1,500 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial alerting authorities that use IPAWS to send critical public alerts and warnings in their jurisdictions.


IPAWS is guided by its mission IPAWS Strategic Plan: Fiscal Year 2014-2018 to provide integrated services and capabilities to federal, state, local, tribal and territorial authorities that enable them to alert and warn their respective communities via multiple communications methods. 


The IPAWS vision is to provide timely alert and warning to the American people in the preservation of life and property using the most effective means for delivering alerts available at any given time. 

Last updated November 16, 2020