Notification: Notification: Visit our COVID-19 resource center - Learn More >

Keeping Residents Informed: An Emergency Manager’s Guide to IPAWS Alerting

During an emergency, you need to know how to send alerts to the public and provide life-saving information efficiently and effectively. Fortunately, today’s officials have much better options than ringing a bell in the town square — the sophisticated and modern IPAWS system is fully integrated with wireless, television, radio and other telecommunication platforms. Learn more about the platform, how to become certified to use it and resources available to you.

Overview of IPAWS

The government’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) was created to help protect members of the community as well as to provide protection for valuable property. Emergency management officials can be incredibly busy during an emergency, and creating alerts through three separate systems simply isn’t feasible. IPAWS allows vetted government officials to warn the public through one centralized IPAWS-compliant interface such as CodeRED from OnSolve  The interface  distributes messages via multiple systems that utilize the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), Emergency Alert System (EAS), Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), the weather radio for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and more.

When to Use IPAWS

IPAWS should only be used in the event of an emergency that threatens life and property and you need to reach the broadest group of individuals possible. Dangerous chemical spills, missing children and even the threat of a terror attack are all reasons for public officials to trigger the IPAWS broadcast network.

How IPAWS Helps Residents

You never know when a disaster is going to strike — and it rarely happens when everyone is safe at home. The benefit of the IPAWS system is that it provides a wide variety of options for notifications to the public, including visitors to the area or others who haven’t yet registered for alerts. Since the system is integrated with cell phones, radio and television, people are much more likely to receive the notification than if the government relied on an opt-in list of individuals in a specific geographic area.

Training for IPAWS Operators

Becoming part of the IPAWS emergency network includes access to the Collaborative Operating Group, or COG. Individuals or jurisdictions that become a part of a COG can request the JITC Test credentials from FEMA to become an approved operator on the platform; this improves your familiarity with the system so you’re comfortable sending alerts in the event of an emergency. An interactive web-based course on IPAWS is available free from FEMA.


FEMA officials often use the CodeRED from OnSolve solution as their alert origination tool when traveling to demonstrate the full IPAWS system capabilities. You can trust that your message will always get through in the event of an emergency as CodeRED servers are located in data centers across the country for redundancy and maximum availability. With the ability to deliver thousands of messages, CodeRED provides both speed and reliability that puts geo-targeted, critical information into the hands of the public in minutes. CodeRED also provides critical two-way communication to your field team and residents during emergency situations.

Additional Resources

The Federal government provides additional resources to support IPAWS through the Federal Emergency Management Institute, including:

Are you ready to learn more about how CodeRED can help you keep the public informed in the event of emergencies? Contact us today at 866-939-0911, or request a free demo.