FEMA’s new series of online IPAWS presentations might be of interest to broadcasters wanting a better understanding of EAS and alerting message origination.
The IPAWS Users Conference, which includes FEMA’s recap of the 2021 National EAS test last August, discusses the ever-increasing number of alert origination software tools available to alerting authorities. The presentations are intended to answer the questions of EAS stakeholders, according to FEMA, and provide alerting authorities with the tools and skills needed to create effective alerts and become confident IPAWS users.
The webinar features Al Kenyon, chief of FEMA’s IPAWS Customer Support Branch, in several segments. He targets upstream message importers, such as local emergency managers and law enforcement, and discusses the steps it takes to become an IPAWS alerting authority and the web-based training available for alert originators. The courses also cover several additional event codes that have become available.
Kenyon, a former radio engineering executive with broadcast companies like Clear Channel, Jacor and Taft, discusses how local authorities can apply for FEMA Memorandum of Agreements (MOAs) and the importance of renewing expired MOAs. Proficiency demos, officially called the “IPAWS Mandatory Monthly Proficiency Demonstration Program,” also are critical to the user’s ability to complete a task, according to Kenyon. “Practice, train, exercise, succeed,” Kenyon stresses in one of the webinar modules.
Meanwhile, Jody Smith, manager of the IPAWS technical support services facility, covers best practices for alerting authorities sending IPAWS alerts.
Smith in another segment gives a video tour of FEMA’s new Technical Support Services Facility, which offers training opportunities for alerting authorities. The new facility in Oxen Hill, Md., which is closer in proximity to FEMA headquarters, is still under construction, Smith said on the video, but is fully functional.
Dr. Amanda Savitt, a postdoctoral researcher with Argonne National Laboratory’s National Preparedness Analytics Center, is a guest on the IPAWS webinar and in one segment discusses the two-day Technical Assistance Workshops for alert originators she delivers through FEMA. The training focuses on improving a jurisdictions’ ability to communicate effectively to the public before and following a disaster, including tips for pre-scripted announcements and enhancing social media skills.
The IPAWS Users Conference online video presentations with accompanying slides are publicly available via https://www.fema.gov/ipaws-users-conference-presentations-and-videos.