Review of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Modernization Final Report

Posted on: 15th May 2023


Review the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Modernization Final Report.

-Analyze the recommendations and identify the importance of the recommendations and their genesis.

-Discuss their relevance in today’s complex environment.

-How will these recommendations improve the IPAWS mission?

-Are these recommendations feasible and what are the possible challenges with implementing them?

-Are there any other recommendations/considerations for the success of the IPAWS mission?

Incorporate case studies, journal articles, and other scholarly means where appropriate to support your work.

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Review of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Modernization Final Report

Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS)

The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, also known as IPAWS, utilizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to distribute authentic emergency and life-saving information via mobile phones, television, or radio. The system was created to facilitate the utilization of multiple pathways for the public to increase the likelihood of the message successfully reaching the public. This system allows alerting authorities to write a warning message using the available commercial software that complies with Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) (“Integrated public alert & warning system,” n.d.). The message is then delivered to the IPAWS open emergence network for authentication, followed by simultaneous delivery through multiple communication pathways. As a result, IPAWS has made it possible for emergency alerting agencies to alert as many people as possible within a short time.

Review of the IPAWS modernization final report.

Early 2019, FEMA announced the completion of the IPAWS modernization report (FEMA integrated public alert and warning system subcommittee final report available, 2019, p. 1). The IPAWS modernization act (Public Law 114-143) established a National Advisory Council (NAC) IPAWS subcommittee due to the IPAWS Modernization Act. The group was instructed to develop ideas for improving the Integrated Public Alert and Warning Systems. The committee’s objective was to ensure that the systems used diverse communication technologies and embraced and utilized future technologies for direct public contact, sending messages to a wide segment of affected persons, and enhancing remote areas’ access to alerts. The report included fourteen recommendations, each assigned to one of five broad categories. 

Recommendations by Theme

Theme 1: “Improving Alerting Authorities’ Ability To Transmit Effective Alerts.”

Recommendation 1

To improve Alerting Organizations’ emergency messaging, FEMA could perhaps recognize, establish, enhance, and provide teaching, mentorship, and methodologies on sophisticated and usable alert/warning textual content. According to Sutton et al. (2019), emergency communication should be created and disseminated appropriately. The authority of alert messages, such as message guidance, should focus on including the source, hazard, location, consequences, actions, and distribution to Alert Originators (AOs) across the country. In addition, AOs must be knowledgeable about generating actionable and timely alerts for the public to follow to ensure public safety and timely response. Finally, AOs should be consistent in delivering alert messages, with multiple redundant modern and traditional public alert communication channels and technologies being used.

Recommendation 2

FEMA should develop simple notifications and alerting jurisdictional and multi-jurisdictional strategy frameworks and toolkits to provide best practices and guidance for emergency warnings. On the other hand, unclear information leaves individuals to fill in the blanks, resulting in sluggish replies with life-threatening ramifications (Sutton et al., 2019). Developing and implementing clear functional plans that define the public alert triggers dependent on risk, suggested public response, and alert types enhance audience understanding and reaction times. Smartphone tracking and a simple alert procedure guarantee that the public is informed. Instead of issuing separate and possibly conflicting messages, AOs in adjacent jurisdictions send the alert across all platforms.

Recommendation 3

The State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial governments (SLTTs) should work with FEMA to develop widespread awareness and understanding of IPAWS through a multi-media alert, and warning campaign targeting authorized alerting authorities. In addition, to maintain continuity of alert and notification services across the country, countries require an integrated public alert and warning system. Although, as a result, many public reaction strategies will not include IPAWS, campaigns to increase IPAWS visibility, incorporation, and used by many existing and emerging notifying security agencies are required. This awareness will help to ensure that the alert messages are effective and that the public responds quickly.

Recommendation 4

FEMA should engage with the AO's, including emergency warning planning and message composition, through a contract or grant. The following are critical elements of effective operation: notification, knowledge management, and recording. The IPAWS-1 training may be completed through courses, distance learning, and real-world applications that need recertification to use the IPAWS systems. To make the system more useful, it will be necessary to build a variety of interactive and educational distribution methods, consider the IPAWS Modernization Act of 2015, and offer online and physical assistance for successful IPAWS usage. As a result, the training will guarantee that AOs are adequately prepared to provide better services.

Recommendation 5

Set up a helpdesk for AOs to receive user-friendly information and assistance, allowing them to issue timely and effective notifications. The 24/7 support will help identify failed alerts and alert the AOs to take appropriate action. In addition, 24/7 support helps the Alert Originators by keeping an inventory of existing resources which can easily be accessed.

Theme 2: Improving Public and Congressional Understanding of Emergence Alerting

Recommendation 6

The final stage of the evaluation process is to compare IPAWS with other systems (e.g., Next-Generation 9-1-1). FEMA should work with the Federal Communications Commission, Alert Originators, and IPAWS distributors to determine how different alerts are distinguished. Additionally, to improve the public’s confidence in alerts, FEMA should create awareness of how alerts from IPAWS are sent across multiple platforms. This awareness will help eliminate confusion created by false alerts from private sectors and increase public compliance with these alerts.

Recommendation 7

FEMA should educate lawmakers on the improvements needed in emergency alerting systems to reach a larger number of people in urban and rural areas. Technology is constantly evolving, and lawmakers must stay updated on the latest developments to improve their emergency alerting systems. Improvements to these systems will ensure that alerts are received on time, even in the most remote locations.

Theme 3: Optimizing Technology

Recommendation 8

The population around the world is diverse. Hence, FEMA should lead in the development of comprehensive standards set to visual symbols, transcripts, and captions for easy understanding of alerts. In addition, continued improvement of IPAWS capabilities ensures that every individual can comprehend the alerts promptly.

Recommendation 9

During the conversation, individual anonymity is crucial. FEMA should work with the Federal Communication Commission, subject-matter experts, and the Federal Trade Commission to assure consumer protection and private information. Unauthorized persons may now obtain information maliciously, thanks to technological advancements. Enforcement activities will assist prevent consumer fraud as a result of IPAWS misuse or exposure.

Theme 4: Identifying and Adopting Current and Future Technologies

Recommendation 10

FEMA should work with important and non-traditional alert and warning stakeholders to help provide alert messages on various platforms, including the latest technologies. For example, stakeholders such as gaming platforms, billboards, instant messaging platforms, kiosks, and assistive communication platforms will help reach many people promptly.

Recommendation 11

A jurisdiction’s primary alert capability may fail during a catastrophic event or be compromised. FEMA should establish capacity and legislation to enable redundant alert originating capability in the event that law enforcement authorities are unable to comply with established safety measures. Furthermore, alternative alert originators aid in avoiding disastrous outcomes when the primary alert system fails.

Recommendation 12

FEMA should have high-availability, high-capacity capabilities to host and retrieve files with multi-media information. This installation helps in retrieving files that could be lost during catastrophic disasters. For example, the 2016 Chelsea bombing in New York highlighted difficulties in sending information through Wireless Emergency Alert (Goodman & Gelles, 2016). As a result, to avoid this problem, the ability to send links was added to Wireless Emergency Alert messages.

Recommendation 13

With FEM guidance, standards, and best practices, Alerts and warnings should be more effective. In addition, IPAWS will improve alert senders’ and recipients’ experiences by improving security workflow and access control, providing consistency of messaging, and considering accessibility requirements.

Theme 5: Initiate Cross-Functional Management and Administration of IPAWS

Recommendation 14

Stakeholders involved in alert and warning notifications should be kept in touch with by FEMA. This ongoing involvement ensures that topics such as technological changes and improvements are addressed. Furthermore, the engagement aids in investigating methods to reduce the number of false alarms.

The world is evolving, and many social, cultural, economic, and technological changes have occurred. Some of these changes have created a complex today. For example, technological changes have changed the world to greater levels. Unlike the early times when messages were conveyed via common channels such as messengers or letters, today’s world communicates in many ways. Therefore, the recommendations in the report have addressed the necessary considerations to ensure successful adoption in the world as it keeps changing. IPAWS’s mission is to offer integrated services to authorities to send alerts and warnings across multiple platforms. Implementation of the recommendations in the report will help achieve this mission as they address the necessary improvements and considerations.

These recommendations are feasible and achievable with the collaboration of the involved bodies. However, they may face challenges such as difficulty adapting to the new technology, resistance to change by some operators, and implementation of some of the suggested improvements will require additional staff, which will be an expense to the organization. Apart from teaching and training their operators, FEMA should also provide online teaching services to the public in marginalized areas.



FEMA integrated public alert and warning system subcommittee final report available (HQ-19-010). (2019). FEMA.

Goodman, J. D., & Gelles, D. (2016, September 19). Cellphone alerts used in New York to search for bombing suspect (Published 2016). The New York Times - Breaking News, US News, World News and Videos. Retrieved May 1, 2022, from

Integrated public alert & warning system. (n.d.).

Sutton, J., & Kuligowski, E. D. (2019). Alerts and warnings on short messaging channels: Guidance from an expert panel process. Natural Hazards Review20(2), 04019002.

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