Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS)

During an emergency, alert and warning officials need to provide the public with life-saving information quickly. IPAWS is a modernization and integration of the nation’s alert and warning infrastructure, and will save time when time matters most, protecting life and property.

What is the Wireless Emergency Alert system?

Launched in 2012, WEA is a tool for authorized government agencies to reach the public during times of emergency. It is used locally to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on compatible mobile devices. WEA is designed to provide geographically targeted, text-like messages to alert the public of imminent threats in their area. In 2018, Napa County expanded its alert and warning program to include authorized use of the WEA system through Nixle and the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS). 

The public can learn more about Wireless Emergency Alerts on the FCC’s website. 

What language will the WEA test be in?

The WEA test will appear in English or Spanish depending on the language selected for the phone’s main menu.

How will I know the difference between a WEA and a regular text message?

WEA includes a special tone (some describe it as quite loud) and a vibration, both repeated twice, and special text message that appears on the mobile device screen.

Will the test alert be used to gather my private data?

No, both EAS and WEA are broadcast technologies and do not collect any of your data. This test is strictly designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the systems sending an emergency message.

The County’s survey is designed to give alert and warning specialists a better understanding of which systems continue to be effective means of warning communities about emergencies. 

How do I know if I’ve opted in to receive WEA tests? How do I opt in?

When you buy a new wireless phone, the “State/Local” WEA test option is disabled, so interested parties must opt in to receive test messages. The method for opting in to receive WEA tests varies by phone. 

Below are instructions for most iPhones and Android devices. Step by step instructions are also available here (PDF). If you have another type of phone (not iPhone or Android), you may need to check with your phone manufacturer or wireless provider for additional information on how to receive WEA test alerts and follow the guidance provided.