FEMA nears emergency alert standard

The Federal Emergency Management Agency expects to adopt Version 1.1 of the Common Alerting Protocol for the national emergency warning and alert system by early next year, FEMA officials said in July.

The goal is to create a national infrastructure so digital messages can be sent to TVs, radios, desktop computers and other elements of FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).

The protocol is an open-source technical standard that volunteers developed seven years ago. The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards accepted it in 2004 and later refined it. Emergency managers, broadcasters and disaster managers at FEMA have adopted it, and experts have long anticipated that FEMA would make it an official standard.

In the coming months, FEMA officials will work with federal and industry partners to resolve interoperability issues and clarify how to use certain optional parts of CAP, said Lance Craver, IPAWS program manager at FEMA.

During that time, FEMA and its partners will develop formats, or profiles, for sharing messages, Craver said. They might also create formats for specific types of emergencies, such as disease outbreaks or events triggered by a chemical sensor reading, he said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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