FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) enables local government officials to deliver secure, critical alerts to a communication pathway known as Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). Together, both WEA and the CodeRED system are tools an agency can take advantage of to keep residents safe and informed.
It is important to note that WEA does not replace CodeRED. Substantial differences between WEA and a mass notification system include:
1. Alerts delivered based on cell tower coverage area
2. A 90-character description limit is placed on WEA alerts (90 characters include the authorized originator’s information)
3. WEA alerts are limited to presidential use, AMBER Alerts and imminent threats
4. Not all mobile devices are capable of receiving WEA alerts
With CodeRED, agencies have complete discretion on message content and notifications can be delivered to any device capable of receiving a telephone call, text message, email and social media message. Many CodeRED clients proactively use the system for missing children alerts (see story below) because most missing child scenarios do not qualify under the Justice Department’s defined activation criteria, though it is of agency and community priority.
Agencies should use every tool available to them for emergency notification, including CodeRED and WEA through IPAWS. Used in tandem, these notification tools can ensure the best message reach possible.