FEMA Announces Intention to Adopt CAP

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Washington - Jul 30, 2008 - The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced its intention to adopt an alerting protocol in line with the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) 1.1 as the standard for the Integrated Public Alert and Warnings System (IPAWS). The plan is to adopt the protocol during the first quarter of calendar year 2009.

The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) is a network of alert systems through which FEMA is upgrading the existing Emergency Alert System (EAS). CAP 1.1 is a format for exchanging emergency alerts allowing a consistent warning message to be disseminated simultaneously over many different warning systems. Participants in the EAS, including broadcasters and state and local emergency managers, will be required to be in compliance with CAP 1.1 standard within 180 days of its formal adoption by FEMA.

FEMA's partners in developing CAP profiles include the National Weather Service, Federal Communications Commission, the DHS/Science and Technology Directorate's Command, Control and Interoperability Division; Emergency Interoperability Consortium; Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards; and the International Association of Emergency Managers.

The 180-day window is a known factor to broadcasters, but that window does not open until FEMA adopts a protocol. The announcement has little concrete meaning other than to serve as a warning that the clock will begin ticking in the first quarter of 2009.

Radio magazine talked to Jerry Lebow of Sage Alerting systems about the announcement, and Lebow warns broadcasters not to wait until the last minute to order and install the required updated equipment. Lebow noted that in 1996 when EAS was adopted that broadcasters had a similar 180-day window to comply. Sage and other EAS equipment manufacturers received the bulk of their equipment orders in the final weeks of that window, and many stations had to apply for compliance waivers because units were not yet available.

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