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IPAWS Official Assures Alert Community

The program ‘is not seeking to replace or outsource IPAWS services’

The federal IPAWS Program is not seeking to replace or outsource its services, according to its director.

Antwane Johnson, director of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Division at FEMA, has sent a post to IPAWS “stakeholders” including broadcasters, industry forums, local government officials and cellular carriers.

Recent news reports, including one that RW shared earlier with readers, indicated that federal emergency managers were considering replacing the custom-built system with a commercial alternative because IPAWS had not met a certain set of standards.

In his post, Johnson noted concerns generated by a FEMA request for information in December.

“The IPAWS Program Office wants to ensure you, our critical stakeholders that the IPAWS Program is not seeking to replace or outsource IPAWS services,” he wrote.

Johnson said IPAWS partnered with FEMA’s Office of the Chief Information Officer to ensure that the IT infrastructure that supports IPAWS “is robust, reliable and economical.” He said the information officer is looking for industry feedback on the best methods for providing reliable application and data center services to support the Open Platform for Emergency Networks, called IPAWS OPEN.

“Although IPAWS is only one of many applications that reside within the ‘FEMA Enterprise’ IT infrastructure,” he continued, “IPAWS has some of the most stringent requirements for high availability and reliability. For that reason, IPAWS was called out specifically in the RFI and will be engaged in the review process, seeking alternative hosting solutions that can provide high reliability and availability while also increasing resilience and long-term cost efficiencies.”

He said that FEMA’s focus will be on maintaining current operations and keeping stakeholders informed of any changes that would impact their ability to warn the public. “The IPAWS PMO does not anticipate that there would be any changes to the IPAWS-OPEN alert input or output interfaces and no impact to our alert origination and alert dissemination partners beyond normal planned functional improvements.”

IPAWS is an effort to integrate the nation’s warning infrastructure; it was intended to give officials a way to warn the public using the familiar Emergency Alert System as well as the new Wireless Emergency Alerts, NOAA Weather Radio and other alerting systems from one interface. Local authorities can integrate their own systems that follow Common Alerting Protocol standards with the IPAWS infrastructure.