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Last modified: May 21, 2005
OASIS Emergency Management TC


Note: This document is not actively maintained as of 2008-01. Please see: OASIS Emergency Management TC: CAP, EDXL-DE, EDXL-RM, HAVE


The purpose of the OASIS Emergency Management TC is "to advance the fields of incident and emergency preparedness and response. This will 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." According to the initial TC Charter, the core scope of this activity includes, but is not limited to: (1) Unified incident identification; (2) Emergency GIS data accessibility and usage; (3) Notifications methods and messages; (4) Situational reporting; (5) Source tasking; (6) Asset and resources management; (7) Monitoring and data acquisition systems; (8) Staff, personnel and organizational management.

Projected deliverables identified by the TC proposers:

  • Q1 2003: Research to find any related XML-based DTDs and XSD schemas that should be considered or included in our efforts. This will be done in collaboration with OASIS and/or other relevant national standards bodies and authorities. Blue292, Inc. intends to contribute a notification specification and form data collection specification to the new TC at its first meeting for consideration as the basis of work.
  • Q2 2003: Delivery of first draft of the first XML-based standard from the group.
  • Q3 2003: Design compliance test suite and scenarios to assist implementers of the Emergency Management standards.
  • Q3 2003: Publish best practices to be used by implementers of the Emergency Management standards.
  • Q4 2003: Committee approval of first specification to be submitted for consideration as OASIS standard.

Subcommittees [as of 2003-05] included:

  • Emergency Management Notification Methods and Messages. Chartered to address procedures and formats for exchanging new and updated information related to functions including public safety, emergency response and homeland security. See the SC mailing list archives.

  • Emergency Management Infrastructure Framework. Draft charter: "Within the EM community there currently exists a lack of definition regarding the validation, selection and deployment of infrastructure-based facilities supporting persistent interoperability across a broad range of applications. For instance, what components and/or protocols support interoperability today, and are they valid in the context of an national emergency management system? With this in mind, the EM Infrastructure Framework Sub-committee (EMIFS) will produce a horizontal intellectual effort predicated on establishing a common set of EM infrastructure standards, regardless of originating industry and/or agency segment... The subcommittee will research, analyze, recommend, and organize currently available protocols in order define a validated systemic framework enabling stable, on-demand connectivity between EM systems regardless of operational focus." [April 14, 2003 draft]

  • Emergency Management GIS. Draft charter: "Geography and spatial location are an extremely important part of Emergency Management. Geographic information standards are becoming mature and being integrated into general Information Technology standards. This subcommittee will ensure the proper use and integration of these geographic standards into the development of Emergency Management interoperability standards... The purpose of this subcommittee is to ensure existing geographic information standards are properly used and integrated into Emergency Management standards. This may include developing profiles and application schemas of existing geographic information standards for EM, if and when unique sets of requirements are identified. The SC will seek to make EM TC participants aware of the correct use of coordinate reference systems, GIS capabilities, feature classes, geographic metadata, and other related geospatial information." [April 22, 2003 draft]

What is the EM-XML Consortium? A parent organization, within which the OASIS Emergency Management TC is one constituent part. "Since the announcement of the EM-XML Consortium in October 2002, the group has attracted the attention of numerous public and private companies, individuals, and agencies. Currently totaling a representation in excess of 40 institutions, this effort is focused on researching, designing, developing, deploying, and evangelizing standards in the world of incident and emergency management. The Consortium's rapid growth and exposure has not only allowed it to help begin defining future of incident and emergency management standards, but it also began to impact them today. To accommodate the growth and further focus the work [of the Consortium], an Executive Committee (EC) and a Technical Committee (TC) have been formed. This provides a more well-defined and efficient structure, with each committee serving its own unique functions. The EM-XML EC is chaired by Matt Walton, Founder and Vice Chairman of E Team, and focuses on the public and Federal outreach and education of the efforts of the TC, as well as incident and emergency management issues in general. This group provides guidance and direction for development of interoperability standards focused on incident and emergency management. Currently, the group meets quarterly and membership is free. Additional information about the EM-XML EC can be requested by sending email to Matt ( R. Allen Wyke, CIO of Blue292, chairs the TC. It focuses on the design and creation of XML-based standards to support incident and emergency management interoperability. This group, formally known as the Emergency Management Technical Committee (EM TC), is housed within OASIS, 'a not-for-profit, global consortium that drives the development, convergence and adoption of e-business standards.' Additional information about the EM TC, which has weekly calls and requires membership in OASIS, can be obtained from the Website or by sending email to R. Allen Wyke." From "Understanding the EM-XML Consortium," a document describing the EM-XML Consortium and its relation to the OASIS Emergency Management TC, 2003-04-22.

Articles, Papers, News

  • [May 19, 2005]   OASIS Advances Common Alerting Protocol and Emergency Data Exchange Language.    Members of the OASIS Emergency Management Technical Committee have released a Version 1.1 Committee Draft for the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) specification, and invite public review through July 15, 2005. Members of the TC are also participating in a collaborative effort to develop an XML-based Emergency Data Exchange Language (EDXL), intended to provide a broader integrating framework for a wide range of emergency data exchange standards and application types. Version 1.0 of the Common Alerting Protocol was approved as an OASIS Standard in April 2004 and has been adopted widely. CAP 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 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 the United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio and the Emergency Alert System (EAS). CAP also offers enhanced capabilities that include: (1) flexible geographic targeting using latitude/longitude shapes and other geospatial representations in three dimensions; (2) multilingual and multi-audience messaging; (3) phased and delayed effective times and expirations; (4) enhanced message update and cancellation features; (5) template support for framing complete and effective warning messages; (6) compatible with digital encryption and signature capability; (7) facility for digital images and audio." [Full context]

  • [April 01, 2004] Common Alerting Protocol Version 1.0 an Approved OASIS Standard. 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. The The Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) 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. And CAP provides a template for effective warning messages based on best practices identified in academic research and real-world experience."

  • [May 16, 2003] "XML Group to Help First Responders." By Dibya Sarkar. In Federal Computer Week (May 12, 2003). "A consortium of private- and public-sector organizations, university groups and nonprofit agencies are driving an initiative to create standards for using Extensible Markup Language to help first responders and others communicate and exchange information during emergencies. The group, known as the Emergency Management XML Consortium, expects to submit the first specification to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) by year's end. XML eases the exchange of information by tagging data so disparate applications and systems can recognize it. The lack of interoperable equipment has been a concern for many public safety officials for years, but consortium members said the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- when New York City firefighters and police experienced major communications problems with devastating consequences -- spurred them to act... The consortium, launched last October, is composed of 52 members so far. The group includes an 'open tent' executive committee created to provide policy guidance for standards development as well as outreach and education. It also has a technical committee, formally accepted by OASIS, which will actually design and develop the XML schema-based standards. Before being accepted by OASIS, the consortium conducted considerable research about what was being done in the XML arena. Rather than reinventing the wheel, [Matt] Walton said the group wanted to build on what's already been accomplished. Members of the group learned that there is 'not a focused, clearly delineated set of Web standards already under way' for incident management, he said. 'There was actually sufficient justification to look at that as a discrete area within a context of all these other areas.' Mark Zimmerman, program manager for the Disaster Management E-Gov Initiative at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said there's a need to foster communication among parties whether they have a homegrown or commercial product, but any national approach is best done on a voluntary basis and not as a federal mandate to state and local governments... Allen Wyke, the technical committee's leader and chief information officer for Blue292 Inc., a developer of crisis information management software, said he likens the development of emergency management XML standards to building kitchen cabinets... Core areas being researched include unified incident identification, emergency geographic information system data accessibility and usage, notification methods and messaging, situational reporting, source tasking, and asset and resource management. The group will also look at issues surrounding financial tracking and public health as it relates to emergency management. Initially, subcommittees will focus on GIS data, messaging and infrastructure... The consortium has set forth an aggressive timetable with the goal of having the first draft of an XML-based standard by the end of June [2003]..."

  • [February 14, 2003] "Cost Would Mute the Effect of XML Standards for Emergency Workers." By Rich Mogull (Gartner Research). Gartner FirstTake. 12-February-2003. Reference: FT-19-4330. 2 pages. Comments on the OASIS Emergency Management Technical Committee. "Although establishing XML standards would facilitate the exchange of information between many disparate agencies, the wide scope of the effort probably will make it impractical. Even if the committee succeeds in establishing standards, it will address only part of the problem. The real hindrance to communication between government agencies is economic pressure. Cash-strapped local governments run on very limited IT budgets. The financial crisis among state governments has exacerbated the problem. Federal homeland security funding may spur some interoperability projects, but large IT projects at the local level will be limited. For now, operations have become more of an immediate problem than interoperability. In addition, complete interoperability is somewhat unworkable. Emergency systems do not interoperate for a number of reasons -- primarily, limited network connectivity. Such systems frequently carry information of a sensitive or private nature, and therefore must run on secure private networks. These networks should not depend on, or even frequently connect with, the Internet. If they did, they could face malicious cyberattacks or inadvertent risk through the negligence of users. With vendors struggling with the same tight IT market, they may use the ideal of interoperability as a way to penetrate the emergency services market. Many hope to tap into well-funded homeland security initiatives. However, the OASIS initiative will not afford them any short-term gains and may have only a limited, long-term impact. Enterprises and vendors should monitor the Emergency Management Technical Committee's efforts and evaluate the specifications that it develops -- if any. Homeland security technology managers working on interoperability projects should not delay work while waiting for the development of specifications..." [HTML version]

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