On May 1-3, an Emergency Alerting Policy Workshop was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The event focused mainly on use of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), and was sponsored by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), International Telecommunications Union (ITU), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Environment Canada (Canada’s weather bureau), Public Safety Canada (responsible for public alerting and alerting between officials), and Canada Center for Security Sciences. Many interesting policy issues were discussed, including the unique challenges of Google.org regarding its Google Public Alerts feature. Continue reading »

Kudos to FCC on Timely TTS Decision

On April 27, 2012, in CAP, Emergency Alert System, by with SRA International

As reported recently on AWARE, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in its Fifth EAS Report and Order prohibited the use of text-to-speech (TTS) technology when converting messages from the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) format to legacy EAS format for airing on broadcast stations and cable systems. This ban was to take effect on April 23, 2012. While we made note of the “Petition for Reconsideration” filed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asking FCC to restore EAS TTS use and the widespread support for that filing by the EAS community, we surmised that “the FCC does not typically move quickly on such matters and any change to the CAP EAS rules is not expected prior to the April 23, 2012 effective date”. Well much to AWARE’s delight, the FCC proved us wrong and in fact issued an Order on Reconsideration prior to April 23 to allow TTS use in EAS devices. From the EAS community – hats off to the Commission on this insightful decision.

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The National EAS test and recent CMAS testing have brought the spotlight on the FEMA Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) program from the public and Congress alike.  On December 6, 2011, Representative Gus  Bilirakis (R-FL) introduced H.R. 3563, the Integrated Public Alert Warning System Modernization Act of 2011.  Also, recent statements from Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) indicate her plans to introduce legislation in the Senate soon.

While the path to enacting legislation is not yet certain and the exact language is by no means written in stone, this activity draws attention to the need for the IPAWS program to be formally authorized.  Continue reading »

Two Steps Forward: How Local Broadcasters can Carry the Most Critical Emergency Alerts

On March 8, 2012, in Emergency Alert System, by with Remote Possibilities / Broadcast Warning Working Group

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Alert System (EAS) Notice of Inquiry (NOI) proposed rule changes that included a call for requiring broadcasters and cable operators to carry local and state emergency warnings. This provision is commonly referred to as “Governor Must Carry” (GMC). Currently, the only mandatory EAS messages in the FCC’s rules are those issued by the President.[1]

One reason GMC was put into that NOI was because of complaints that governors were not using the EAS to tell traffic fleeing from events like Hurricane Ike that all highways were converted to head north.  Another reason: In Texas, instead of using EAS for the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the governor convened a news conference where reporters asked if AMBER (Child Abduction) alerts could be used to warn people about touching pieces of the fallen shuttle. Other instances of failures to originate proper warnings, or misuse of proper warning protocols are in the record.

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Development process for the Australian CAP Profile

On February 28, 2012, in CAP, by with The Attorney-General's Department, Australian Federal Government

This article is the third of five articles I am writing to highlight what is happening in Australia with the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP).  In my first article “Australia’s emergency alerting system”, I introduced the systems that are currently used in Australia to alert communities about potential hazards and emergencies.  My second article “What the Australian CAP Profile seeks to achieve”, identified why CAP is considered necessary in Australia and the benefits that CAP will provide to the Australian emergency management environment.  This article discusses the development process that is being undertaken to develop the Australian CAP Profile. Continue reading »

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