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Comment Sought on CAP

The OASIS comment period is just one step in a process that some emergency managers have criticized as too slow.

FEMA passed along the word this week that OASIS (the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) has initiated a 60-day public review period for the protocol that ultimately will be used in a next-generation nationwide EAS system.

OASIS is taking comment until May 2 on Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) v1.1 for FEMA’s IPAWS (Integrated Public Alert and Warning System).

By executive order, FEMA is charged with designating the CAP protocol for use in future EAS, and once it settles on the standard, broadcasters will have six months to implement systems.

The OASIS comment period is just one step in a process that some emergency managers have criticized as too slow. Some governments have already gone ahead and launched EAS networks using versions of CAP.

“A key question is, what is the process after the OASIS 60-day review period?” said Ed Czarnecki of SpectraRep, the Chantilly, Va.-based company contracted with FEMA to implement CAP, and which also helps states implement emergency notification systems.

When implemented, CAP should enable data-rich, IP-based emergency information to flow from government officials to broadcasters.

The posting from OASIS is here.

FEMA submitted its draft EAS CAP requirement to the OASIS Emergency Management Technical Committee Dec. 12.

Czarnecki noted that once the profile is set, numerous questions remain on equipment and software certification, where the FCC has authority. And then there’s the big question of how cash-strapped broadcasters will pay for the new gear.

But meanwhile, systems are moving forward without the new standard set. “We think a smartly designed system will allow easy upgrading of software, and processes to accommodate this IPAWS profile and also future iterations of the CAP standard itself,” Czarniecki said. “Those with systems that are not easily upgradeable may have a valid reason for concern, but for well-designed systems that can do secure managed updates, there isn’t really a reason to delay the rollout of a next-gen public warning capability.”