From Galain President Rick Wimberly’s Blog “Alerts and Notifications: Best Practices For Emergency Notification Programs”

in Emergency Management Magazine

The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) has been operating for years without laws that make its mission clear.  It’s authority has come from Presidential Executive Order, but not Congressional authority.  Several attempts have been made to pass IPAWS legislation, but they’ve not succeeded.  A new approach is being tried.  This time, IPAWS legislation is being proposed as part of the bill that reauthorizes FEMA.

The IPAWS language is similar to the prior attempts.  It requires much of the functionality that IPAWS currently offers through its initiatives such as the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).  The language also makes it law that nationwide tests of public alert and warning systems be conducted at least every three years.  As it stands, there’s only been one nationwide test of the one of the IPAWS initiatives; the first-ever nationwide test of EAS was conducted in November of 2011.  WEA, the cell broadcast alert system, has never been tested nationally.

The bill would also require that an advisory committee be established to make recommendations on such things as:

  • protocols, standards, terminology, and operating procedures
  • alerting based on geographic location
  • alerting individuals with disabilities and limited English proficiency
  • future technologies
  • partnerships to enhance community preparedness

A limit of $12.7-million would be placed on IPAWS spending each year.

The FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2013 is before the full House and Senate.

All the best,

Rick

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