No doubt about it, IPAWS can be confusing. Lots of misconceptions out there about what FEMA's Integrated Public Alert and Warning System is really all about. In fact, some people have wondered if IPAWS is really happening.
Here's a good sign. A new video has been added to the IPAWS web site that provides a high-level, easy-to-understand overview of the IPAWS story. The video points out that IPAWS must ensure that the President can reach the American people. But, it states a recognition by IPAWS that most alerts and warnings are issued at state and local levels.
Then, it discusses how IPAWS will work: Alerting authority will be given to local and state officials who will, first, complete FEMA-sponsored training, then, be confirmed for IPAWS use.
When need arises, alerting authorities will use alert origination tools (from commercial vendors) to send alert messages. Messages will be routed through IPAWS-OPEN. When a message gets to IPAWS-OPEN, it will be authenticated and validated for conformity to Common Alerting Protocol (CAP). Then, the message will be available for delivery to the public through multiple pathways including the Emergency Alert System, CMAS (now referred to as PLAN - Public Localized Alert Network), and National Weather Service radio. Pictures and video can be distributed through IPAWS, too. Plus, "future" alerting technologies can be integrated to the system.
Rats, I guess I've given away the movie. (OK, a "short", only five-minutes long.) Well, watch it anyway. It will help.
All the best,