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by Rick Wimberly: Best practices for emergency notification programs

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Organizations start lining up for IPAWS
December 15, 2010
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22 companies or organizations have signed up to feed alerts to the FEMA IPAWS (Integrated Public Alert and Warning System) alert system.  Another 27 are in the sign-up process.  So said the man in charge of helping organizations hook into the new IPAWS messaging switch (called IPAWS OPEN) in a webinar today (12/15/2010). 

In the on-line session conducted by Emergency Management Forum, Gary Ham stressed that he'd like to see still more folks sign-up.  Those who do so will be walked through a process that will allow them to, first test, then feed alerts into IPAWS OPEN.  IPAWS OPEN will then immediately send the alerts to any number of public alerting systems.  Among them will be the Emergency Alert System (EAS) operated by broadcasters, cable companies, and public safety officials.  (See our post here on how local public safety can make EAS more effective.)  Beginning in 2012, IPAWS will include Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS).  CMAS will provide short text alerts to mobile devices within a targeted geographic area...without need for the public to register to receive the alerts. The National Weather Service's NOAA Weather Radio will be included, and who knows what other public alerting systems will be involved down the road.

Gary told the forum that organizations representing the full IPAWS eco-system are among the 49, including those whose systems can originate alerts and those whose systems can receive alerts and send them to the public.

FEMA has tried to make signing up for the IPAWS OPEN program as painless as possible.  A Memorandum of Agreement and Rules of Behavior will be required, but not an exhaustive process.  Once an organization starts testing feeds, Gary will be available to help them deal with issues.  (See our post here, which will give more info on Gary's efforts, including links to his contact info.)

It's not time yet for public safety alerting authorities to sign-up for IPAWS.  Right now, most of the activity is centered around the commercial and government organizations whose applications will make IPAWS work.  But, at the forum this morning (which was recorded and will be made available through the FEMA web site), it was mentioned that work has begun to develop a training program for alerting authorities. 

All the best,





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