As the roll out of the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS), also known as Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), continues, alert originators are faced with the task of completing several necessary steps to become authorized to send CMAS alerts. CMAS is a part of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), so alert originators must complete several steps required by FEMA to connect to IPAWS as a Collaborative Operating Group (COG). These steps can be found on the FEMA IPAWS website.
As a part of this multi-step process, alert originators must ensure their alert origination service provider (AOSP) has successfully completed testing in the IPAWS test environment. This important step deserves special attention, as it may require an alert originator to take additional action, depending on whether or not the alert originator’s current AOSP has participated in testing.
AWARE has learned of a number of situations alert originators face at this point in the process, resulting in various timeframes and next steps for alert originators.
Below are a few examples:
- The alert originator’s current AOSP has completed testing – In what is likely the most ideal situation, the alert originator learns that the AOSP he/she is using currently has completed the necessary testing in the IPAWS test environment to ensure a successful connection to IPAWS. This situation is ideal because it requires the least amount of change or action on the part of the alert originator. However, even in this case, the alert originator must take the step of contacting his/her AOSP representative to ensure that testing is complete and to confirm all the necessary actions have been taken between the AOSP and the alert originator to ensure a successful connection to IPAWS in preparation for the alert originator’s authorization to send CMAS alerts.
- The alert originator’s current AOSP has begun testing – This situation also can be ideal because the necessary steps have been taken by an alert originator’s existing AOSP to begin testing in the IPAWS test environment. However, because testing is not complete yet, this situation does require a frank discussion about timing between the alert originator and the AOSP representative to ensure the capability to connect to IPAWS is in place by the time the alert originator intends to connect to IPAWS and begin sending CMAS alerts. Depending upon where the AOSP is in the testing process, this timeframe can vary, so transparency between the two entities is important.
- The alert originator’s current AOSP has not begun testing, so the alert originator decides to pursue a new AOSP – Some alert originators may learn that their current AOSP has not begun the process of testing in the IPAWS test environment and does not have any plans to begin this process in the near future. If the AOSP’s plans do not align with the alert originator’s plans to connect to IPAWS and become authorized to send CMAS alerts, the alert originator may decide to pursue other AOSPs that have begun or completed the necessary testing.
- The alert originator has released a request for proposals (RFP) from AOSPs - If an alert originator is not working currently with an AOSP or, as described above, if an alert originator’s current AOSP has not begun testing in the IPAWS test environment, the alert originator may decide to release an RFP in pursuit of an AOSP that has completed testing in the IPAWS test environment and is capable of connecting to IPAWS.
- The alert originator has received responses to an RFP from AOSPs – Once an RFP has been released, an alert originator may receive responses from AOSPs that are at various points in the process of completing testing in the IPAWS test environment. This situation may require the alert originator to gather additional information from the responding AOSPs about where they are in the IPAWS testing process to ensure alignment around the expected timeframe for connecting to IPAWS and becoming authorized to send CMAS alerts.
A list of AOSPs, or software development companies, that have signed a memorandum of agreement with FEMA to begin testing is available on the FEMA IPAWS website. However, it should be noted that the AOSPs on this list are at various points in the testing process, so the best way to determine where an AOSP is in the process and what timeframe can be expected for testing to be completed is probably to reach out to the AOSP directly. As you may have concluded by now, the relationship between an alert originator and his/her AOSP is a unique and important one. For this reason, and because of the range of possible situations noted above, an alert originator should not hesitate to reach out to an AOSP early on in the process to encourage transparency and collaboration in completing the steps necessary to connect to IPAWS and become authorized to send CMAS alerts.
Given all of the possible situations alert originators have found themselves in regarding this step in the process of becoming authorized to send CMAS alerts, as well as the importance of the alert originator/AOSP relationship, AWARE would love to hear from you:
- Do these situations sound familiar?
- Are there situations we missed?
- What lessons learned can you share with others going through this process and finding themselves in similar situations regarding this important step?