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FEMA Improves IPAWS Platform

Upgrades will make it easier for message originators to target alerts

FEMA is making it easier for those who originate emergency alerts, usually governmental agencies, to enter those messages into FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System — a Web-based platform.

FEMA plans to enable new features for the IPAWS platform in September when the agency debuts OPEN v3.02.

So says broadcast engineer and long-time EAS expert Gary Timm, now an alerting consultant with SRA.

The government agency has two active servers for the system, to boost reliability, he writes on the Alerts, Warnings & Response to Emergencies blog.

Two new features for the system will make it easier for alert originators to use and better target what area gets an alert. When enabled, alert originators will be able to use polygon and circle geographic descriptions of an alerted area, instead of just the county FIPS code, according to Timm.

Another new feature will also allow alert originators to more narrowly target who gets a message. Using so-called “Channelblock” does just what it sounds like, allowing the originator to leave out certain geographic areas when the message goes out. That could be leaving out certain IPAWS dissemination channels like EAS, CMAS, or non-weather emergency messages aired on NOAA Weather Radio, according to Timm.

This capability exists now, but the new feature makes it easier for alert originators to use.

FEMA is also adding a “Non-EAS Public” alert dissemination channel to the system.