Senate Passes Emergency Warning Update Bill

Will Expand FEMA’s Alert System

WASHINGTON — The Senate has passed S. 1180, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Modernization Act of 2015.

The bill would expand and update IPAWS, which can deliver alerts to multiple platforms (TV, radio, cellphones, computers, home phones and electronic billboards), boost training and increase collaboration. It was co-sponsored by Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

Congress has long been working on improving emergency alerts via the broadcast and cable Emergency Alert System (EAS), Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and FEMA's IPAWS system. There is also a House version of the bill.

IPAWS allows emergency authorities to write their own messages, authenticates them and delivers them to the various platforms. including TV and radio stations and cable systems.

"NAB applauds the Senate's bipartisan passage of this important legislation modernizing our public-alert warning system,” National Association of Broadcasters execuitive vice president of communications Dennis Wharton said. “As America's hometown 'first informers,' radio and television broadcasters know the crucial need for up-to-the-second information that can keep lives and property safe.

"We thank Sens. Johnson and McCaskill for their leadership on this issue and look forward to working with stakeholders to ensure all Americans have access to emergency alerts," Wharton added.