A handful of agencies are responding to the call-to-action to get authorization to start sending alerts through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). The main driver is the imminent roll-out of the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS).
Miami-Dade County in Florida is one of the first to submit their application to FEMA. Emergency Management Specialist Adam Cohen says “I can’t believe how easy the process was. Within two weeks, I had an answer from FEMA”. FEMA approval was step two of a four-step process. Step three was to ask the State of Florida to confirm that Miami-Dade is a legitimate public safety agency and should get alerting authority. The State has approved. Step four is to complete the IPAWS training through Emergency Management Institute (EMI), an on-line course that takes a couple of hours or so to complete. With all four steps completed, Miami-Dade is ready to start using IPAWS.
Cohen says he “really likes what IPAWS is trying to accomplish”. He’s particularly enthused about CMAS ability to send alerts to mobile devices, even if the devices are owned from out-of-towners visiting the area (and Miami-Dade has lots of them). CMAS alerts will be sent from cellular towers, and received by all CMAS-equipped devices within geographic area of the towers.
Cohen says he’s not worried at this point that CMAS won’t work with all devices yet. Mobile device companies have started shipping CMAS-capable devices, but it will take time (several years perhaps) for subscribers to replace their old devices with CMAS-capable devices. Plus, it’s hard to tell exactly where the mobile carriers are ready for CMAS (although most of the major ones are working diligently on it). Cohen says, even with the rolling roll-out, “it’s at least a starting point we wouldn’t have otherwise”.
All the best,
By the way, you can get a list of organizations that have filed their applications on the FEMA website and can find our podcast on CMAS, including info on the application process, here.