As IPAWS and the Common Alerting Protocol continue to grow in terms of alert originator adoption, we are still a long way from the promise of a streamlined system that was once promised. In theory the IPAWS OPEN server should act as a message broker between all alert and warning products as well as distribution paths. Many manufacturers has implemented the ability to format and produce a CAP compliant alert message to originate into the IPAWS OPEN server over the last several years. Most of these manufacturers focus on the delivery of short text based messages for the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA/CMAS) space.
Where the market continues to have a vacuum and the public ultimately continues to lack the alert recipient paths it could benefit from is in terms of unified message origination that focuses on all available distribution paths and the willingness of distribution channel partners to embrace the IPAWS OPEN platform. To provide some perspective to this issue let us look at two of the most commonly relied upon distribution channels for critical warnings; telephone notification services and NOAA Weather Radio. Note that these both have prominent roles in the IPAWS Architecture since its beginning.
Notice that Emergency Telephone Notification Systems are shown as a key design feature of IPAWS integration. In theory, a properly developed warning message delivered into the IPAWS domain includes detailed written and verbal (text and audio) instructions as well as links for more information, short text, etc. Political subdivisions spend great sums of money for the maintenance of these systems to be able to directly reach into someones home by telephone. The only problem? At the time of this writing, there is not a single mass market Emergency Telephone Notification service that offers the ability to automatically deliver telephone based notifications based on an emergency message from IPAWS. While several ETN services give the ability to originate IPAWS messages, they do not have the ability to ingest and deliver those messages.
Similarly and perhaps even more shocking is that the National Weather Service continues to require their own authorization and registration process for the distribution of Non-Weather Emergency Messages. This is important because as Emergency Managers have made the case for many years for business and households to invest in “NOAA All Hazards Radio” most emergency mangers still lack the ability to directly activate those devices when they issue warnings. Those jurisdictions that have signed up for IPAWS need to be aware that a separate registration process is required in order to be able to activate NOAA Weather Radio.