DHS - Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS)

Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) was organized and funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security. The system allowed for alerts to be originated by Federal, State, local and tribal officials, and subsequently disseminated to the public using a range of national and local alerting systems including EAS, CMAS and NWR. The system used open standard digital formats such as the EDXL-based Common Alerting Protocol v1.2 for its messages, allowed for interoperable dissemination to a wide range of third party receivers.

On September 30th the Center for Advanced Communications Policy (CACP) was notified by the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, Division of the National Continuity Program Directorate of a grant from the IPAWS program: IPAWS (Integrated Public Alert and Warning System) Alerts for People with Disabilities or Language Differences. The award was for approximately $500,000 for one year from September 30, 2013 to September 29, 2014.

The CACP Collaborative team efforts were to promote access to emergency communications for people with disabilities by providing advisory support, independent analysis and other professional services to the Directorate in which IPAWS resided. Specifically, the team provided subject matter expertise on regulatory, policy and disability issues by supplying evidence based, unbiased technical and policy options and recommendations on emergency communications, notifications, warnings and alerts that can contribute to advancing the goals of IPAWS to be inclusive of people with disabilities. The diverse assignments included but were not limited to:

  • assisting IPAWS in educating relevant agencies, organizations, emergency managers and industry to better understand the needs of people with disabilities during emergencies,
  • informing citizens on mainstream technologies that can be co-opted for use in emergency communications
  • assisting in supporting the vital work of first responders and state/local emergency managers
  • assisting in social media activities, and
  • exploring ways to provide accessible next generation Wireless Emergency Alerts over various platforms that tie to IPAWS

The CACP Collaborative included the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA), the Interactive Media Technology Center (IMTC), and leveraged the work of the Wireless RERC, which is also funded by the federal government.