The Senate Homeland Security Committee has approved S. 1180, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Modernization Act of 2015.
The bill would expand and update IPAWS, boost training and increase collaboration, said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) earlier this month in introducing the bill—there is also a House version. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) was a co-sponsor of the Senate bill.
"NAB applauds the Committee for advancing this important legislation modernizing America's public alert warning system. Radio and television broadcasters play a crucial role as 'first informers,' providing local communities with up-to-the-second information when disaster strikes," the National Association of Broadcasters said following committee passage. "We thank Sens. Johnson and McCaskill for their leadership on this issue and look forward to working with lawmakers to pass this bill ensuring all Americans have access to emergency alerts."
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, which can deliver alerts to multiple platforms (TV, radio, cell phones, computers, home phones and electronic billboards).
IPAWS allows emergency authorities to write their own messages, authenticates them and delivers them to the various platforms.