Glossary Term:

Emergency Alerting

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What is an emergency alerting system?

When a crisis strikes your community, public officials need an emergency alerting solution as a reliable and efficient way to communicate with residents and businesses to keep them safe and informed. A top emergency notification system makes it easy to deliver fast, targeted messages to impacted individuals during a critical event or ongoing crisis situation.

See Below For More FAQs

Why Use Emergency Alerting from OnSolve®?

In order to keep their communities safe, government agencies need to get the right information to the right people at the right time. OnSolve® CodeRED® enables agencies to deliver fast, effective, geo-targeted alerts for both crisis events and internal day-to-day operations.

Add and Manage Contacts

  • Add or edit them manually
  • Import them from a spreadsheet
  • Synchronize information with an existing database

Choose Who, How, and When

  • Choose who you want to receive the message
  • Pick the channel: Voice message, text message or email (or all 3)
  • Hit “send” for immediate delivery, or schedule to deliver later

Get Useful Feedback Reports

  • Know who received your message and when
  • Get answers to any questions you asked in your message
  • Easily identify any numbers or addresses that were undeliverable

How do emergency alerts work?

With emergency alerting, you can send urgent notifications and instructions to citizens in minutes. More importantly, agencies can deliver the same message across multiple channels and devices, including email, voice and text. If one channel goes down or gets overloaded during a disaster, your message can still get through on a different channel. Citizens can also select their preferred medium for receiving messages, further improving message receipt.

A cloud-based government emergency alerting system adds yet another layer of protection, making it possible for public officials to send alerts from anywhere – even if your servers or wireless service experiences an outage during a crisis event.

Many government agencies find an emergency alerting solution just as valuable for day-to-day operations, keeping citizens informed of routine items like scheduled power or water outages, street closures and educational outreach.

How do I send emergency alerts?

An emergency alerting system is a simple and effective way to reach impacted citizens and businesses. Creating and sending alerts is an easy process officials can complete in just a few seconds from wherever they are at the moment a crisis strikes. The best emergency alert systems make it possible to send an alert via text, email, web or mobile emergency communications app, giving government agencies multiple options during a disaster. Officials can even send alerts while they’re out in the field. Since recipients can select their preferred channel for receiving alerts, agencies can be confident messages will be received rather than ignored.

Some government emergency communications systems are integrated with the National Weather Service®, so your residents automatically receive a weather alert for their area as soon as a bulletin is issued. Integration takes the responsibility off the local agency and saves precious time when a tornado, hurricane or other natural disaster occurs in your community.

How are emergency alerts sent to cell phones?

In an emergency, reaching members of your community is a top priority. According to the Pew Research Center, 97 percent of Americans own a cell phone. Sending an alert to these devices is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to reach people.

In addition, an emergency alerting system offers you the flexibility to reach millions of residents at once by sending SMS messages to mobile phones. This gives you the ability to share information about evacuation details, missing persons and more.

Why do I need an emergency alerting system?

A government emergency alerting system enables local public safety personnel to notify residents and businesses by telephone, text message, email and social media of time-sensitive information, emergencies or urgent notifications. Government agencies can reach hundreds of thousands of individuals in minutes to ensure information pertaining to evacuation notices, missing persons, inclement weather, utility outages, floods, chemical spills, water main breaks and other emergency situations is delivered quickly and only to those people who need it.

Agencies can use emergency alerts to provide details of a crisis situation and instructions on actions to take, so citizens can make well-informed decisions and remain safe. Emergency communication systems allow government agencies to proactively inform people, instill confidence, foster teamwork and improve operational outcomes.

Residents can register for emergency alerts online, by phone or by downloading a mobile emergency communication app, making it a convenient and user-friendly way for citizens to stay informed and protected.

Which is the best alert system during a disaster?

When evaluating emergency alert systems, there are three qualities to look for:

  • Speed: Public officials must be able to rapidly create and send alerts to impacted citizens and businesses.
  • Relevance: Alerts should only be delivered to impacted individuals, on their preferred device and in their native language.
  • Usability: Systems that have a user-friendly interface and mobile emergency communication app option make it easy for officials to send emergency alerts when stress levels are high.

What is the IPAWS emergency alert system?

The Integrated Public Alerting & Warning System (IPAWS) is FEMA’s national system for federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officials to use for emergency alerting. The system integrated the nation’s existing warning systems used for different types of alerts including Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs), the Emergency Alert System (EAS), Non-Weather Emergency Message (NWEM)/HazCollect and Collaborative Operating Groups (COG to COG). IPAWS allows messages to be sent by designated Alerting Authorities using software that is Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) compliant. Once created, the message is sent to the IPAWS Open Platform for Emergency Networks (IPAWS OPEN), authenticated and delivered through multiple communications channels.

When it comes to protecting your community, government agencies need to take advantage of every method available to communicate during a critical event. Nationwide alerts and warnings provided by IPAWS is a must-have for every government agency, so it’s important to choose an emergency alert system that’s a compliant vendor of IPAWS products. Make sure the vendor meets FEMA criteria and has passed IPAWS OPEN testing. The provider should also be well-versed in CAP messages and communications.

What are OnSolve alerts?

OnSolve alerts are emergency messages sent quickly and easily by an agency using our top emergency notification system. The OnSolve alerting solution helps residents become confident in your ability to keep the public safe, and they understand where to go when they need information about local hazards and impending emergencies.

With OnSolve alerts you can:

  • Send time-sensitive alerts to your community quickly and receive feedback
  • Target messages to individuals based on their current location
  • Send alerts through multiple channels (text, email, voice or social media)
  • Reach residents in their native language through automated translation

OnSolve alerts can be used for:

  • Amber alerts
  • Inclement weather
  • Road closures
  • Utilities outages

What is OnSolve CodeRED?

OnSolve CodeRED is a reliable emergency notification system that helps government agencies protect people and property when every second counts. The intuitive, cloud-based software makes it easy to create and deliver geo-targeted alerts, so you can get the right information to the right people at the right time.

CodeRED was developed specifically for local public safety personnel to notify their communities of time-sensitive information or emergencies. The emergency alerting system can reach millions of individuals in minutes to ensure information such as evacuation notices, missing persons, inclement weather advisories and more are quickly shared.

With OnSolve CodeRED, state and local government agencies can:

  • Mitigate the impact of an emergency or crisis
  • Proactively inform impacted individuals
  • Improve teamwork and collaboration among response teams
  • Manage routine operations more effectively
  • Instill confidence in your ability to protect the public

CodeRED can be used across several departments and agencies. Example use cases include:

  • Boil water notices
  • Chemical spills and HAZMAT incidents
  • Evacuations
  • Missing and endangered children/persons
  • Police activity
  • Road closures
  • Severe weather warnings

How do I get IPAWS alerts for my agency?

There are four steps to become an approved IPAWS user:

  1. Select an approved software vendor. The emergency alert vendor must meet FEMA criteria and pass IPAWS OPEN testing. The vendor should also have expertise in CAP messages, including the Organization for Advancing Structural Information Standards (OASIS) CAP 1.2 standard.
  2. Apply for a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Applying is simple. Just download the application and email the form once completed. You can access the application and other important information here.
  3. Apply for Public Alert Permissions. This application will be sent to you once you’ve applied for a MOA. You will be asked to provide information on the types of alerts you’ll be sending and your geographic warning area. This application must be reviewed by a designated state official or tribal leadership before it’s submitted to FEMA.
  4. Complete IPAWS training. Those who will be using the system must attend a two-hour web-based training session. Upon completion, you’ll receive a certificate which must be submitted to FEMA IPAWS for validation.

What are AMBER alerts?

AMBER Alerts are emergency alerts sent when a child has been abducted and is in danger. The system began in 1996 after Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas. When law enforcement has decided an abduction has occurred and meets the AMBER alert criteria, broadcasters and state transportation officials are notified, and an alert is sent out. AMBER alerts are delivered across multiple channels, including television, radio, road signs and mobile devices.

The AMBER Alert system is used across all 50 U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Indian country. Thirty-three other countries also use the system, with more than 90,000 missing or abducted children and adult cases to date. AMBER alerts also help deter abductions from happening in the first place and, in some cases, the perpetrator has actually released the child after an AMBER alert was issued.

OnSolve CodeRED is the primary notification system used by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). NCMEC selected CodeRED to exclusively power WEAs for the AMBER Alert system because it provides a faster and more reliable means of delivering WEAs. The ability to deliver geo-targeted, time-sensitive information will improve the effectiveness of AMBER Alerts in the search for missing children.

Emergency Alerting: What is it and what can it do for my organization?

Learn how critical communications technology helps you share the right information with the right people during a crisis.

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