IPAWS Newsletter, Winter 2024

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IPAWS Newsletter

Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS) • Issue 7, Winter 2024

IPAWS Director Retires from FEMA
Moving On: IPAWS Chief Engineer
Alert Escalation Process & Alerting on Behalf
Introducing IPAWS Aware
Upcoming IPAWS Exercises
Requests for Exercise Support
Recent Webinar Recordings
Meet IPAWS at These Events
Welcoming New Alerting Authorities

IPAWS Director Antwane Johnson Retires from FEMA

Antwane Johnson

IPAWS bids farewell to Antwane Johnson, who retired at the end of 2023. He joined FEMA in 2009 and expanded IPAWS beyond the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to include Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), the National Public Warning System (NPWS) and the IPAWS All-Hazards Information Feed.

Before joining FEMA, Antwane was Director for Critical Infrastructure Protection within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense & Americas' Security Affairs. There, he was responsible for ensuring a resilient defense industrial base. Previously, he was Chief of Information Management Technology in the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, responsible for developing technologies in support of arms control agreements.

The entire IPAWS Team thanks Antwane for his leadership and wishes him the best in retirement. IPAWS Deputy Director Wade Witmer will serve as Acting Director until FEMA names a permanent replacement.

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Moving On: IPAWS Chief Engineer

Mark Lucero

On Jan. 26, IPAWS said goodbye to its Engineering Branch Chief, Mark Lucero. Mark had been with the IPAWS program since 2009 and was instrumental in leading design, development and operations of the IPAWS-OPEN system.

He would say he did not do these things alone, but was honored to work among an excellent team of engineers, IT specialists, program analysts and a supporting cast that made it all happen.

Mark's career path takes him from FEMA IPAWS to the Enterprise Architecture Division at FEMA's parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security.

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Alert Escalation Process (AEP) & Alerting on Behalf (AOB)

What do these terms mean?

Alert Escalation Process (AEP): A process developed by an Alerting Authority that leverages cross-jurisdictional support to issue alerts on their behalf.

Alerting on Behalf (AOB): The action of issuing an alert, warning or notification on behalf of another jurisdiction. This action can be performed at the local, state, territorial or tribal level by establishing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and updating IPAWS Public Alerting Applications.

24/7 Designated Authority Point of Contact (DA POC): Individuals at state, territorial or tribal agencies identified in the IPAWS User Portal that have the authority to authenticate a local Alerting Authority requesting FEMA to alert on their behalf.

The IPAWS Technical Support Services Facility (TSSF) will request that the 24/7 DA POC be on the phone with the local Alerting Authority and provide a Unique Authentication Number before proceeding with an AOB request.

Unique Authentication Number (UAN): A unique five-digit number that the TSSF issues each 24/7 DA POC. For security measures, the UAN must be provided to the TSSF during every AOB request.

Are You Prepared?

Developing an Alert Escalation Process with your local, county, state, tribal and/or territorial agencies can expedite getting IPAWS alerts, warnings and notifications out to the public. If your agency is unable to issue an alert, the IPAWS TSSF is available 24/7 to assist.

Alerting Software Failure Plan

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Introducing IPAWS Aware

A new IPAWS offering, IPAWS Aware, will be a subscription service for Alerting Authorities to receive an email when an alert is sent with information about the alert sent including an infographic with a map of the targeted alert, and demographic and socioeconomic information statistics about the community in the targeted alert area (see illustration).

IPAWS Aware display with charts

IPAWS Aware will be an opt-in email distribution subscription available to emergency managers and first responders.

The initial Aware capability was built by Rob Barreras, Emergency Management Coordinator, Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management, and successfully demonstrated as a proof of concept throughout Los Angeles County.

The success of the initial proof of concept, increasing requests throughout California and multiple other states from emergency managers and first responders led FEMA's IPAWS Office to investigate developing a national version of the IPAWS Aware capability.

Why is IPAWS Aware Important?

IPAWS Aware can provide cross-jurisdictional emergency managers and first responders with information and situational awareness of alerts and warnings being received by the public that can be used to anticipate emergency response resources before dangers move into their area.

When Will IPAWS Aware be Implemented?

Like all new tools, the first version of IPAWS Aware will not be the final version. The initial capability is expected to be available in summer of 2024. IPAWS is partnered with Argonne National Labs and our internal resources at FEMA Resilience Analysis Planning Tool (RAPT) to deliver the Aware capability.

For more information contact Bernard Smith, bernard.smith3@fema.dhs.gov.

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Upcoming IPAWS Exercises

As we kick off the new year, we are excited to announce two upcoming IPAWS exercises hosted by the IPAWS Training & Exercise Team at the IPAWS Technical Support Services Facility (TSSF), National Harbor, Maryland.

Quarterly Tabletop Exercise (QTTX): Feb. 27–29, 2024

Join the IPAWS Training and Exercise Team, in-person or virtually, for the first IPAWS Quarterly Tabletop Exercise of 2024.

This two-hour webinar will occur daily from Feb. 27–29 (one day in-person at the TSSF, two days held virtually) for Alert Originators to practice, review, and exercise their alert, warning and notification capabilities for winter weather emergencies.

Participants will practice constructing IPAWS messages in this scenario-based exercise and take part in group discussions to promote peer-to-peer learning.

Registration details will be sent out in the coming weeks. For questions about the QTTX or any other IPAWS training or exercises, contact the IPAWS TSSF Training and Exercise staff at fema-ipaws-training-exercises@fema.dhs.gov.

EMI Wildfire Virtual Tabletop Exercise, Mar. 5–7, 2024

Join the Emergency Management Institute and the IPAWS Training and Exercise Team for an IPAWS-focused Wildfire Virtual Tabletop Exercise (VTTX).

As part of EMI’s VTTX series, this exercise is meant to produce professional discussions on using IPAWS between different jurisdictions for a similar scenario.

You can join this online VTTX from anywhere to review, exercise and assess your agency’s capabilities to deliver prompt, reliable, and actionable information to your community.

To register, send an email request to participate in the exercise to:

Integrated Emergency Management Branch - fema-emi-iemb@fema.dhs.gov
Reginald Godfrey, EMI Broadcast Coordinator - reginald.godfrey@fema.dhs.gov

In your email, include your preferred date of participation and a primary point of contact (POC) for your organization.

Upon receipt of the email, EMI will contact the POC with the approved participation date. Find more information at this link.

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Requests for Exercise Support

FEMA's National Exercise Program is accepting requests for exercise support. To be considered for the 2024 round of the National Exercise Program, submissions are due by March 1. This will be the only opportunity to request exercise support in 2024.

For jurisdictions not ready to submit a request at this time, the National Exercise Program will hold another exercise support round in 2025.

Instructions for how to submit a request for support are on the National Exercise Program website. Applications are open to all state, local, tribal and territorial governments but new applicants especially those from underserved jurisdictions are urged to apply.

The National Exercise Program is a four-year cycle of exercises across the nation that examine and validate capabilities in all preparedness mission areas. The program offers no-cost assistance to state, local, tribal and territorial jurisdictions for exercise design, development, conduct and evaluation to validate capabilities across all mission areas.

In January, FEMA will host webinars to discuss the exercise support process. All webinars will offer the same content. To see all webinar dates and to register, please visit the webinar registration page.

National Exercise Program staff are available to answer your specific exercise support application questions. Write to NEP@fema.dhs.gov and include "2024 Exercise Support Question" in the subject line. Program staff will be in contact answer your questions.

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Recent Webinar Recordings

Nov. 15, 2023: Understanding the Impact of Alert on Behalf  Recording / Slides

Nov. 16, 2023: Alert on Behalf for State Alerting Officials, Tribal & Territorial Representatives  Recording / Slides

Sept. 27, 2023: IPAWS Users Conference  Recordings & Slides
Includes National Test, Decade of WEA, Message Design Dashboard, IPAWS User Portal, Alerting Tools Portal and more.

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Meet IPAWS at These Events

Feb. 27–28, 2024: National AMBER Alert and AMBER Alert in Indian Country Symposium, New Orleans, Louisiana
The Symposium is designed to bring together over 200 State and Regional AMBER Alert coordinators, Missing Person Clearinghouse Managers, Tribal leaders, public safety, emergency management and federal officials.

Mar. 9–16, 2024: 9th Annual Tribal Nations Training Week
Anniston, Alabama
The Center for Domestic Preparedness will host the 9th Annual Tribal Nations Training Week. The training is funded for state, local, tribal and territorial emergency responders, including airfare, meals, lodging, training, and any equipment required during training.

Mar. 25–28, 2024: National Hurricane Conference
Orlando, Florida
The primary goal of the conference is to improve hurricane preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation in order to save lives and property in the United States and the tropical islands of the Caribbean and Pacific.

Mar. 25–28, 2024: International Wireless Communications Expo
Orlando, Florida
IWCE attendees represent a diverse group of professionals from the government and military, public safety, utility transportation and business enterprise sectors.

Apr. 24, 2024: Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference
Tacoma, Washington
The event attracts top speakers and provides cutting-edge information on business continuity planning, school safety, public health preparedness, homeland security, and public information and warning.

Apr. 16–18, 2024: National Missing and Unidentified Persons Conference
Las Vegas, Nevada
This conference focuses on identifying innovative and effective technologies, approaches and strategies in the search, investigation, identification, recovery and reunification of missing persons, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their disappearance.

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Welcoming New IPAWS Alerting Authorities

Blue Ribbon

These jurisdictions and agencies recently completed IPAWS Memoranda of Agreement (MOA).

The sign-up process is outlined on the IPAWS website at this link.

AL Geneva County Emergency Management Agency
AR City of West Memphis Office of Emergency Management
CA City of Loma Linda
KS City of McPherson Fire Department
KS Kansas Bureau of Investigation
LA Ouachita Parish Homeland Security Emergency Preparedness
MI Roscommon County Emergency Management
NC Pitt County 9-1-1 Communications
NC Stanly County Emergency Communications
ND Stutsman County Emergency Management/911
NY City of Buffalo
OR Harney County Office of Emergency Management
PA Wyoming County Emergency Management Agency
TX City of Kerrville
TX City of Venus
TX Highland Park DPS
TX Rusk County Office of Emergency Management
TX Sabine County Office of Emergency Management
WA City of Lakewood
WA City of Tacoma Emergency Management
WI University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department

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Contact IPAWS at fema-ipaws-stakeholder-engagement@fema.dhs.gov.

IPAWS 24/7 Technical Support Services: 1-84-IPAWSLAB / 1-844-729-7522