FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Open Platform for Emergency Networks (OPEN) has been making great strides of late with improvements for all IPAWS Collaborative Operating Group (COG) users. Previewed in a webinar today were the features of the latest IPAWS-OPEN release, v3.04. Also highlighted was the availability for state and local alert originators and IPAWS-OPEN developers to make use of the facilities of the FEMA IPAWS Laboratory at the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) in Maryland as a platform to test their systems and alerting capabilities in an environment similar to IPAWS without causing test alerts to circulate in the actual IPAWS network.
In a mid-November FEMA webinar, the alert and warning community received an update on the extensive use of the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS) by the National Weather Service (NWS) over the last several months and an encouraging report from FEMA on the growing number of alert originators and alert origination service developers that continue to request connection to FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).
Access to timely alert and warning information is crucial during an emergency incident. Given that there are over 100 million smartphone subscribers in the U.S., the introduction of the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS), also known as Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), means more people will receive valuable and relevant information during an emergency. While CMAS currently is available only in English, it has been noted that in order to reach more people, alerts and warnings need to expand into other languages.
Last Fall when the FCC and FEMA conducted the first live code test for the national level of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), observers noted that some cable systems that overrode local television stations they carried caused significant disruptions to those stations. Apart from this, the FCC has received a series of complaints from local television viewers based on interruptions caused by routine tests and, in some cases, real EAS events including AMBER alerts. While the FCC has not yet issued their report on the national live code test, some EAS committees have been working with cable systems to explore the extent of the issue, and what might be done long term to fix override problems that at best frustrate local TV viewers receiving stations on cable, and at worst interrupt real-time coverage of emergencies by local TV stations with full service news departments. Continue reading »
Tomorrow, June 30, 2012, is the official FCC deadline when broadcasters and cable operators must have equipment installed to receive EAS alerts in the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) format and must be monitoring for CAP alerts from FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). So how are we doing?