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Created: October 30, 2003.
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OASIS Emergency Management TC Approves Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) Draft.

Update 2004-04-07: On April 01, 2004 OASIS announced that the Common Alerting Protocol Committee Draft version 1.0 of February 10, 2004 approved by the TC and balloted to the OASIS membership had resulted in this Committee Draft being approved as an OASIS Standard. A new "CAP 1.0 Fact Sheet" has also been released.

A Committee Draft for the Common Alerting Protocol Version 1.0 has been approved by members of the OASIS Emergency Management Technical Committee and has been released for 30-day public review. The Common Alerting Protocol is "a simple but general format for exchanging all-hazard emergency alerts and public warnings over all kinds of networks. CAP allows a consistent warning message to be disseminated simultaneously over many different warning systems, thus increasing warning effectiveness while simplifying the warning task. CAP also facilitates the detection of emerging patterns in local warnings of various kinds, such as might indicate an undetected hazard or hostile act. CAP also provides a template for effective warning messages based on best practices identified in academic research and real-world experience." The OASIS TC was chartered to "advance the fields of incident and emergency preparedness and response, to be accomplished by designing, developing, and releasing XML Schema-based core and metadata standards to help facilitate and improve the real-world interoperability problems around incident and emergency management." Public review of the CAP Version 1.0 CD and comments are invited through November 30, 2003.

Bibliographic Information

Common Alerting Protocol Version 1.0. Edited by Art Botterell (Partnership for Public Warning). Committee Specification [Committee Draft]. From the OASIS Emergency Management TC. 12-August-2003. Document identifier: 'emergency-CAP-1.0'. 32 pages. See also the accompanying CAP v1.0 XML Schema.

Published earlier: Emergency Management Technical Committee Requirements. Edited by R. Allen Wyke. Working Draft: 25-March-2003.

Common Alerting Protocol Summary

The Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) provides an open, non-proprietary digital message format for all types of alerts and notifications. The CAP format is compatible with emerging techniques, such as Web services, as well as existing formats including the Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) used for NOAA Weather Radio and the Emergency Alert System, while offering enhanced capabilities that include:

  • Flexible geographic targeting using latitude/longitude shapes and other geospatial representations in three dimensions
  • Multilingual and multi-audience messaging
  • Phased and delayed effective times and expirations
  • Enhanced message update and cancellation features
  • Template support for framing complete and effective warning messages
  • Facility for digital encryption and signature capability
  • Facility for digital images and audio.

Key benefits of CAP will include reduction of costs and operational complexity by eliminating the need for multiple custom software interfaces to the many warning sources and dissemination systems involved in all-hazard warning. The CAP message format can be converted to and from the "native" formats of all kinds of sensor and alerting technologies, forming a basis for a technology-independent national and international "warning internet".

An international working group of more than 130 emergency managers and information technology and telecommunications experts convened in 2001 and adopted the specific recommendations of the NSTC report as a point of departure for the design of a Common Alerting Protocol (CAP). Their draft went though several revisions and was tested in demonstrations and field trials in Virginia (supported by the ComCARE Alliance) and in California (in cooperation with the California Office of Emergency Services) during 2002 and 2003.

Applications of the CAP Alert Message: The primary use of the CAP Alert Message is to provide a single input to activate all kinds of alerting and public warning systems. This reduces the workload associated with using multiple warning systems while enhancing technical reliability and target-audience effectiveness. It also helps ensure consistency in the information transmitted over multiple delivery systems, another key to warning effectiveness. A secondary application of CAP is to normalize warnings from various sources so they can be aggregated and compared in tabular or graphic form as an aid to situational awareness and pattern detection.

Although primarily designed as an interoperability standard for use among warning systems and other emergency information systems, the CAP Alert Message can be delivered directly to alert recipients over various networks, including data broadcasts. Location-aware receiving devices could use the information in a CAP Alert Message to determine, based on their current location, whether that particular message was relevant to their users. The CAP Alert Message can also be used by sensor systems as a format for reporting significant events to collection and analysis systems and centers..."[adapted from the Version 1.0 CAP specification]

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