IPAWS Alerting Authorities, Why You Need an Emergency Alert Solution with IPAWS

In 2018 there were 124 disaster declarations in the U.S., 58 of which were declared major disasters and 14 emergency declarations.

Of these, the most common were flooding and fires, alongside 15 named tropical storms, eight of which were hurricanes. What does this tell us? With such a high number of disasters each year, Emergency Managers need to be prepared to communicate with residents, businesses and visitors should disaster strike. Without the ability to reliably send critical alerts and instructions to those impacted, the outcome of these disasters would likely be more devastating.

Fortunately, government agencies have many tools at their disposal, including the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) and the software required to issue IPAWS alerts – CodeRED.

What is IPAWS

IPAWS is a powerful tool created and managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) nearly a decade ago in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It serves as the infrastructure for national alerts and warnings about life-threatening emergencies. In some states, there are a high number of alerting authorities approved to use IPAWS, but this isn’t the case everywhere. In some states 80-90% of county emergency management agencies are alerting authorities, while in others the percentage is less than 50%. Part of the challenge is that not all mass notification systems being used by government agencies are authorized alert origination software providers for IPAWS – meaning the agencies do not have access to the nationwide alert system.

Why is Having IPAWS Important?

When a disaster strikes, fast delivery of vital information and instructions has proven to save lives. Local authorities can use IPAWS to get information to the public even when traditional communication infrastructure is down. How does this happen? All modern-day smartphones have chips in them that allow the IPAWS system to reach them even when there is no service. This means government officials can alert you during severe emergencies, anywhere and anytime.

IPAWS is accessible by authorized federal, state, tribal and local agencies from an emergency notification solution like CodeRED from OnSolve. Alerts are sent out using the CodeRED system to public alerting systems, including the Emergency Alert System (EAS), Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), internet services and state and local unique alerting systems (sirens, digital signage). Using the combined platforms to send an alert provides a wider reach than many local infrastructures can deliver on their own.


To use the IPAWS infrastructure, local governments must purchase an IPAWS alerting software provider. It’s an investment worth making when disaster strikes. Early warnings help citizens prepare for events and take action through seeking shelter or evacuation. Ultimately, that’s what programs like CodeRED are for. In addition to sending alerts to citizens, CodeRED can provide critical two-way communication to your field team during emergency situations.

CodeRED is an IPAWS alerting authority that allows for quick, easy access to the system via a user-friendly interface. IPAWS alerts sent through CodeRED can be created and launched simultaneously with other alerts without the need to log into a separate application.

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