Proliferation of OASIS Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) Standard

Track: Government, Large-Scale Architectures

Audience Level: High Level/Technical view

Time: Thursday, November 17 11:00

Author: Patti Iles Aymond, IEM, Inc.

Author: Elysa Jones, Warning Systems, Inc.

Keywords: CAP, Common Alerting Protocol, OASIS, Emergency Management, Standards, EDXL, Emergency Data Exchange Language, Interoperability, C4, Disaster Management, Warning, Alert & Notification


OASIS is an international standards development organization (SDO) committed to the development of open, international, interoperable markup language standards. The OASIS Emergency Management Technical Committee (EM-TC) has developed the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) standard. CAP is a simple—but general—Extensible Markup Language (XML) format for exchanging all-hazard emergency alerts and public warnings over various kinds of networks. CAP allows a consistent warning message to be disseminated simultaneously over many different warning systems, increasing warning effectiveness while simplifying the warning process. CAP also facilitates the detection of emerging patterns in local warnings that might indicate an undetected hazard or hostile act. CAP provides a template for effective warning messages based on best practices identified through academic research and real-world experience.

Use of the CAP standard is becoming more prevalent in the United States Emergency Management (EM) community. Operational systems are adhering to the CAP standard. As more and more operational systems adopt the CAP standard, significant progress is being made toward seamless interoperability between EM systems.

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is currently developing and testing the HazCollect system, which is based on the CAP standard and will automate the distribution of messages from Emergency Managers in the field to National Weather Service (NWS) dissemination systems, including the NOAA Weather Radio (NWR), NOAA Weather Wire Service (NWWS), and the NWS Telecommunications Gateway (TG). HazCollect is targeted to be released in 2006.

As practitioners press on toward the NIMS vision of interoperability and compatibility, there are significant opportunities for the application of CAP. The OASIS EM-TC is developing the Emergency Data Exchange Language (EDXL), an integrating framework for a wide range of emergency data exchange standards to support operations, logistics, planning, and finance. The EM-TC is involved in the joint effort of developing these standards based on requirements gathered from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Disaster Management Program within a well-defined process. This collaborative process involves many agencies and practitioners. The first instance of EDXL is set to be a common routing-assertion element that can be used to envelop XML and other kinds of documents, including CAP messages.

The US EM community is rapidly embracing the CAP standard to resolve inter-system interoperability issues, but much work is needed to bridge the gap between the US EM community and the international EM community. The EM-TC is encouraging the use of international standards, such as CAP, to facilitate system interoperability across jurisdictional boundaries. The EM-TC consortium is motivated in this effort to mitigate such devastation and loss of life, as occurred in the 2004 tsunami.