An IPAWS YouTube video is available to share an overview of the program.
Step #1 Complete IPAWS Web-Based Training
FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI) offers the independent study course, IS-247 Integrated Public Alert and Warning System for Alert Originators.
The goal of the course is to provide authorized public safety officials with:
- Increased awareness of the benefits of using IPAWS for effective alerts and warnings
- Improved skills to draft more appropriate, effective, and accessible alert and warning messages
- Increased understanding of the importance of training, testing and exercising with IPAWS
- Best practices in the effective use of IPAWS to reach members of the public
Once training is completed, submit the IS-247 training certificates to IPAWS.
Additionally, EMI offers the optional course, IS-251 Integrated Public Alert and Warning System for Alerting Administrators.
The goal of the course is to provide authorized alerting administrators guidance with:
- Developing effective policies, plans and procedures
- Defining the approval process
- Defining the importance of training, practice and exercising with IPAWS
- Illustrating best practices and effective use of IPAWS to reach members of the public
Step #2 - Select IPAWS-compatible software
Access to IPAWS is free, however, to send a message using IPAWS, an organization must procure its own IPAWS-compatible software. Software should be successfully tested in the IPAWS Open Platform for Emergency Networks (IPAWS-OPEN) test environment. Consult with your software developer to ensure your system is IPAWS-OPEN compatible and provides the capabilities that your organization requires. For a list of private sector developers who have access to an IPAWS-OPEN to develop the system, please see: IPAWS-OPEN Developers.
Step #3 - Apply for a Memorandum of Agreement with FEMA
To become a COG, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) must be executed between the sponsoring organization and FEMA. The MOA governs interoperability and security across emergency response organizations and systems. Each MOA is tailored to the sponsoring organization and their interoperable software system.
To begin the MOA process, please register for an account on the IPAWS User Portal. If you are approved for access by an IPAWS Team Member, you can submit an MOA Application via the portal. Once the complete MOA Application has been received by IPAWS, the Customer Support Branch will prepare the MOA for signature and send it to the sponsoring organization with a COG Identification (ID) number.
Step #4 - Apply for Public Alerting Permissions
Alerting Authorities that intend to send alerts to the public through IPAWS must complete an application defining the types of alerts they intend to issue and the extent of their geographic warning area. The application for IPAWS public alerting authority can be submitted through your IPAWS User Portal.
In order to ensure consistency with state, tribal and territorial public alerting plans, the application must be reviewed and signed by a designated state official or tribal leadership. IPAWS will send your public alerting authority application to the designated state official or tribal leadership. Once approved, all parties will receive a signed copy.
Completing the application
Once the public alerting application and web-based training is complete, specific alerting permissions will be implemented in IPAWS-OPEN. At that point, the individual members specified by the COG will be able to send alerts and warnings in the geographically prescribed areas.
Initial functionality includes the ability to access and send alerts through:
- the Emergency Alert System (EAS)
- the National Weather Service (NWS) All-Hazards Emergency Message Collection System for NWS-approved alerting authorities
- Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), depending on local implementation by commercial mobile service providers.
- IPAWS All-Hazards Information Feed (Internet services). See the IPAWS Alerting Authorities web page for a list of emergency management organizations with access to IPAWS for public alerting.
Each jurisdiction submitting an application will need to know its FIPS Code (as well as the FIPS Codes for other jurisdictions they support). You can find your code on the FCC website.