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IPAWS Guidelines for Coronavirus Shared by FEMA

Insights into when, how emergency alerts can be sent out through IPAWS

As the U.S. deals with the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, FEMA has shared how the Integrated Public Alert Warning System can be used to inform, alert or warn the public.

Describing it ultimately as “a matter of local judgement,” IPAWS—which can include EAS alerts for broadcasters and WEA alerts for wireless providers—can be used to convey health orders, detail curfew information, notify of assembly guidelines/restrictions and to advice of other COVID-19 related information.

With EAS alerts IPAWS users can send up to two minutes of information via text-to-speech or pre-recorded audio in English and Spanish. Updates have also been made to WEA alerts, in which groups can include a phone number and hyperlink as well as send a 90 second and 360 character messages in English and Spanish.

When planning to use IPAWS, it is encouraged that groups send messages to the IPAWS Lab to test the message as well as new IPAWS capabilities. There is also the IPAWS Message Viewer to verify that messages will be sent out and appear as intended. The IPAWS Lab can be contacted at fema.ipaws.lab@awtestlab.com.

Additional best practices that IPAWS highlights includes reminders that EAS uses event codes and that groups should be aware what events will be carried by local broadcasters.

For more information, contact IPAWS@fema.dhs.gov.

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