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   CAP (Common Alerting Protocol) needs review

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OASIS is moving forward the CAP (Common Alerting Protocol). Because this protocol will have a potentially major impact on the systems that are vital to our personal safety and well-being (at least in the USA), I'd like to make a personal call to XML experts to take advantage of the opportunity to review CAP before it becomes an accepted OASIS standard. My personal feeling, as expressed on their mailing lists, is that there has not yet been substantive review by XML technical experts. The Technical Committee should be congratulated for having done a good job of getting the format to its current state and for having created a focal point for discussion of the hazard alerting application domain, however, at this point they very much need input from XML experts to ensure the best quality and most useful output of their otherwise exemplary efforts. So, to all the XML "experts" on the list: Please consider taking a moment to provide the public service of reviewing the proposed CAP standard. The document can be found at:
Their mailing lists are:
For general discussion:
For formal comments:
A summary of CAP, is below. This was taken from:
What is it?

The Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) is an open, non-proprietary standard data interchange format that can be used to collect all types of hazard warnings and reports locally, regionally and nationally, for input into a wide range of information-management and warning dissemination systems.

This project acts on several of the recommendations of the "Effective Disaster Warnings" report issued in November, 2000 by the Working Group on Natural Disaster Information Systems, Subcommittee on Natural Disaster Reduction. It also draws on various earlier professional discussions such as the recurring "Common Alerting Protocol" thread in the Networks in Emergency Management e-mail forum during the 1990s.

Why do we need it?

Warning systems in the United States today are a chaotic patchwork of technologies and procedures. Not only is there no coordination, there's no mechanism for coordination.

Existing nationwide systems are limited in scope both by their technological legacies and by the organizational mandates and priorities of their sponsoring agencies. In particular, none of the existing national systems are entirely suited to the needs of state, local and private emergency-information programs. As a result, dozens of different technical and operational warning systems have sprouted, seemingly at random, throughout the nation.

The Common Alerting Protocol will benefit a) the public, b) public agencies and private concerns (such as industrial plant operators) with warning responsibilities, and c) developers of new sensor, threat-evaluation and warning-dissemination technologies:
  • Automatic multi-channel dissemination of warning messages will extend the reach of warning messages and enhance the effectiveness of those messages by providing timely corroboration of warnings from several sources.
  • Such a system will also simplify the work of alerting officials by giving them a write-it-once method for issuing warnings over multiple dissemination systems without duplicate effort.
  • The Common Alerting Protocol will enhance government's "situational awareness" at the state, regional and national levels by providing a continual real-time database of all warnings, even local ones. (This information about local warnings, unavailable to state and local officials at present, could be crucial to the timely evaluation of certain threats, such as, biological terrorist attacks, which are most readily identified by detecting patterns in local responses.)
  • Special-needs populations including the deaf and hearing-impaired, the blind and visually-impaired and non-English speakers will be better served by consistent delivery of warnings and public-safety information through all available channels.
  • By decoupling the diverse elements of the national warning infrastructure the Common Alerting Protocol will allow technology developers and sponsors to expand, upgrade or even replace existing facilities without disrupting entire systems. A mechanism for warning-system "interoperability" will free system providers to innovate and improve their services without facing barriers due to technological "legacies."


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