FEMA considers next iteration of IPAWS service oriented architecture

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency is taking first steps toward redesigning the service oriented architecture that virtually consolidates multiple public alerting systems.

The system, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System-Open Platform for Emergency Networks (more succinctly known as IPAWS-OPEN), is a key node of the pervasive and multi-platform public alerting system the federal government wants available to it and other public sector organizations.

Through IPAWS, federal, state or local governments should be able to send a message in a standard technical format to IPAWS-OPEN and have that message disseminated through the Emergency Alert System, mobile devices, the Internet and federally compliant emergency radios.

In a request for information issued Dec. 20, FEMA acknowledges that IPAWS as it stands today falls short of its goals, stating that current FEMA and Homeland Security Department "infrastructures, service delivery systems, change process and other aspects has actually disabled IPAWS's responsiveness and flexibility at times and prevented IPAWS from carrying out its mission."

The Government Accountability Office in May found some state and local jurisdictions reluctant to fully implement IPAWS, citing among other things the cost to those jurisdictions of the software and equipment necessary to integrate with IPAWS.

IPAWS-OPEN utilizes an enterprise service bus to achieve plug and play functionality. FEMA is considering a new technical environment for its SOA--although it also says in its RFI that the agency is unwilling to have an SOA stack that's not based on the Oracle suite, and that whatever it does, its ESB "shall be based on the Oracle Suite software and shall include the Oracle Web Services Manager."

The agency also says it wants possibilities for a virtualized server infrastructure with at least 99.99 percent operational availability and an objective of 99.999 percent availability.

For more:
- go to the RFI on FBO.gov

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