FEMA requests comments on alert standard

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is asking for comments on its proposed technical standard for emergency alert messages in the Integrated Public Alert and Warnings System (IPAWS).

IPAWS is the next-generation public warning capability being developed FEMA to create an integrated public and private system capable of delivering warnings though television, radio, telephone, e-mail messages, text messages and other technologies.

FEMA submitted its 53-page Emergency Alert System proposed message profile requirements for IPAWS to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) on Dec. 12, 2008. The organization is considering the emergency alert profile as a possible subcategory of the organization’s existing Common Alerting Protocol Version 1.1 Extensible Markup Language Standard.

FEMA on March 3 asked emergency management industry executives, state and tribal leaders, and first responders to comment on the emergency alert system profile at OASIS. The comment period is open through May 2.

“Arriving at standards and protocols that work for everyone is a complex process,” Walter Florence, IPAWS program manager, said in a statement. “We encourage industry, and our public and private stakeholders to participate in this important venue to help us meet this challenge.”

FEMA’s federal partners in developing the federal CAP profile include the National Weather Service, Federal Communications Commission, the Emergency Interoperability Consortium and Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology Directorate Command, Control and Interoperability Division.

IPAWS will initially design the capability to pass alerts and warnings to the emergency alert system, the profile requirements state. Additional warning systems, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s HazCollect and the Federal Communications Commission’s Commercial Mobile Alert System, will be added in the future.

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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