CISA, FEMA and FCC Hold First National Meeting of State Alerting Officials


Author: Laura Goudreau, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Emergency Communications Division (ECD)

Related topics:

CISA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) held the first National Meeting of State Alerting Officials on April 25-26 in St. Louis, Missouri. This meeting brought together state, tribal, and territorial alerting officials (AOs) to share best practices, discuss challenges, and learn about the latest technology in alerting systems. This stakeholder driven meeting enabled CISA, FEMA IPAWS, and FCC PSHSB to strengthen partnerships and hear firsthand insights from the AO community and identify opportunities to support them as they carry out their critical missions.

Mr. James Wiley, Deputy Chief for Cybersecurity and Communications Reliability for FCC’s PSHSB, expressed how pleased the FCC was to co-host a meeting dedicated to alerts, warnings, and notifications (AWN). “We work regularly with CISA to promote secure emergency communications, including emergency alerting. Our goal is to ensure alerting tools are working effectively, and we appreciate the opportunity to hear input from the alerting community so we can integrate your issues into our policies.”

The two-day event focused on fostering collaboration and improving communication between AOs, with the goal of enhancing the effectiveness of the emergency communications ecosystem. Participants learned about strategies for reaching all communities, identified, and addressed gaps in alerting plans, and discussed opportunities to enhance the effectiveness of the emergency communications ecosystem from an alerting perspective. By working together and sharing best practices, AOs can ensure that emergency messages are disseminated quickly and accurately, and that communities are better prepared to respond to emergencies and recover more quickly afterward.

Mr. Vincent DeLaurentis, Deputy Executive Assistant Director for Emergency Communications within CISA, reiterated the importance of AWN as part of the emergency communications ecosystem. “The communications community wants to ensure that AWN are secure, accurate, and beneficial to recipients. It is critical that AWN are given priority and alerting systems are interoperable to ensure consistency and timeliness.”

Mr. Antwane Johnson, Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for FEMA’s National Continuity Programs (NCP) Directorate and Director of FEMA IPAWS, reiterated that the overall objective of the meeting was to ensure the federal agencies charged with supporting AWN can hear from the alerting community they serve. “We are happy we can do this as it provided a great opportunity to get partners together and discuss issues challenging our nation’s alerting authorities. Alerting is evolving and there are things on the horizon that will impact the security of our emergency alert systems and how we communicate with the public.

This event coincided with CISA's Emergency Communications Month, which honored the work of the nation's emergency communications community in keeping America safe and secure. The event concluded with a call to action for AOs to continue to work together to identify next steps for preparing for the future of alerting, launch future discussions and meetings, and develop resources to better support AOs nation-wide and throughout our neighboring tribal nations and communities. This event successfully demonstrated the importance of collaboration and partnerships in improving emergency communications across the country and has paved the way for future collaboration of leaders within the Alerting Officials community.