The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System the University of Maryland University College EMAN 630 9040 April 10, 2017 Introduction Natural disasters, terrorism, and industrial and environmental accidents all pose threats to human life and property. There are many ways to mitigate and prepare for the risks associated with these hazards, but how do we know when danger is imminent? Historically, people had little to no warning of these types of hazards and they dealt with the damage caused by the hazards as the event occurred and in its aftermath. Decades ago, the only warning of a hurricane may have been the darkening of the skies and an increase in rain and wind. The only warning of an out of control wildfire may have been the detection of smoke as it started to encroach on a neighboring town leaving little time to evacuate.
Over time, new technologies have made it possible to give people advance notice of possible and impending dangers, as well as, keep them informed of ongoing situations in the aftermath of an incident. These early alerts and situational communications help to save lives and secure property. The methods for issuing early alerts of hazards and communicating ongoing crisis information has developed alongside these new technologies over the years. Today we have the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). "The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) is a comprehensive, coordinated, integrated system that can be used by authorized public officials to deliver effective alert messages to the American public" (FEMA, 2017). As of January 6, 2016, officials issued over 22, 000 alerts through the IPAWS system (Kenyon, 2016. ). With thousands of messages sent out to the public each year, it is reasonable to question how effective the messages are. This paper will review the historical development of The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), and compare and contrast effective and ineffective use of the system prior to and during various disasters and emergent situations.
The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System developed from previous emergency broadcasting systems. The first of which was CONELRAD. CONELRAD stands for the Control of Electromagnetic Radiation originally called the "Key Station System" (FEMA, 2016). President Harry Truman established CONELRAD in 1951 requiring radio stations to broadcast emergency information on certain frequencies. The idea behind this was to prevent enemies from being able to use the transmissions as a guide for the target of an attack and to alert the public to the possibility of attack so they could take cover (911Broadcast, 2017). Under this system, in the event of an attack FM radio stations and TV stations would stop broadcasting. AM radio stations would send out alerts for several minutes before going off-air. Then another AM radio station would send out messages on the same frequency for several minutes before go...