FEMA Announces Adoption of Common Alerting Protocol (CAP)

From TV TechCheck, October 4, 2010

On Thursday September 30, the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published a press release announcing its adoption of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) v1.2 standard as the digital message format for the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). IPAWS incorporates and expands upon the traditional Emergency Alert System (EAS) supported by free over-the-air radio and TV broadcasters, and was being discussed by FEMA at their exhibit at the NAB Radio Show held this week in Washington, D.C. (see photo – shown here is Alfred Kenyon, Project Manager, IPAWS Program Office, National Continuity Programs).

CAP is a data interchange protocol developed by the emergency management community and is used to distribute all-hazard safety notifications and emergency warning information. CAP is described in a technical standard published by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) and can be found at www.oasis-open.org/.

In the EAS Second Report and Order, released in July 2007 http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-07-109A1.pdf, the FCC mandated that all EAS participants must be able to receive CAP formatted EAS alerts no later than 180 days after FEMA publishes the technical standards and requirements for FEMA-generated alerts. Thus, by section 11.56 of the FCC’s rules (47 CFR 11.56) the 180-day clock started on Friday, October 1, 2010. However NAB, some equipment manufacturers and others have asked the FCC to extend this time frame and it is expected that they will consider doing so in the very near future.

In order to assist in evaluating new alert and warning systems, FEMA is conducting an assessment program to ensure equipment adheres to the IPAWS CAP profile. A list of pre-screened products that meet the profile will be published at the FEMA Responders Knowledge Base, to aide federal, state, territorial, tribal and local officials in purchasing emergency alert products that comply with IPAWS CAP. Vendors can apply for these assessments at www.nimssc.org/ipawsconform.

The three documents defining the FEMA IPAWS technical standards and requirements for CAP and its implementation are:
(1) OASIS CAP Standard v1.2;
(2) IPAWS Specification to the CAP Standard (CAP v1.2 IPAWS USA Profile v1.0); and,
(3) CAP-EAS Implementation Guide.

The CAP-EAS Implementation Guide can be found on the website of the EAS-CAP Industry Group. The full FEMA press release is available online at www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=52880.