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IPAWS Modernization to Have Little Impact on Radio

Goucher sees improvements with minimal additional station equipment outlays

One of this country’s biggest EAS advocates said she expects the Senate’s passage last week of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2015 to help modernize the nation’s public warning capabilities but have little impact on radio broadcasters and their EAS participation.

Suzanne Goucher, president and CEO of the Maine Association of Broadcasters, said the alerting bill will strengthen traditional EAS, which is a key component of IPAWS.

“The legislation directs the IPAWS program to wrap the IPAWS training modules into the National Incident Management System, thus ensuring that public warning becomes an integral part of incident response,” Goucher said. “And, most importantly, it creates a National Advisory Committee on Emergency Alerting, consisting of federal partners and stakeholder groups, to address problems and work on continuous improvement to the system.”

Goucher, a core member of the Broadcast Warning Working Group and chair of the Maine State Emergency Communications Committee, said the bill does not require broadcasters to purchase any new EAS equipment or perform software upgrades.

“It’s more of an exercise in giving IPAWS official standing in statute,” Goucher said.

Goucher explained that currently IPAWS exists only as the product of a Presidential order, which could easily be undone with another Presidential order.

“That may seem like a remote possibility, but it’s a possibility nonetheless,” she says. “The new legislation would ensconce the program in statute, ensuring its continuation and giving Congress oversight,” Goucher says.

The bill, S. 1180, passed the Senate by unanimous consent last Thursday. A similar bill, H.R. 1472, has been introduced in the House and has passed several committees.

Senate Passes Alerting Bill; NAB Pleased