FEMA Upgrades Wireless Emergency Alert Capabilities


​FEMA recently updated the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) to give authorities more capabilities when sending Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to cellular phones and other wireless devices.  The update is being done in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission
The updates include Spanish-language capabilities, an increase from 90 to 360 characters per message, and an expanded alert category that allows the public to opt-in to a test message category for state and local officials.  The updates also include more accurate geo-targeting capabilities for alerts.  The ability to receive alerts on television and radio via the Emergency Alert System is not affected by the WEA upgrade.
While most wireless providers supported the new enhancements by the go-live date of Dec. 18, some providers required more time for implementation.  FEMA is working closely with providers to assist with this transition.  During the update period, IPAWS will accommodate all versions of WEA to ensure that the public will receive alerts for which their providers and phones are compatible.
FEMA’s IPAWS is a national system for local alerting that provides authenticated emergency alert and information messaging from emergency officials to the public through cell phones and internet applications via Wireless Emergency Alerts, and to radio and television via the Emergency Alert System.

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