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FEMA Adopts CAP V1.2

Step has been awaited by alerting community; action triggers FCC 'shot clock'

This story has been updated with confirmation of the start of the “shot clock.”

The CAP implementation clock is ticking.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency Thursday announced adoption of a new digital message format for IPAWS. The Integrated Alert Public Warning System is the “next-gen” alert and warning network on which federal officials, broadcasters and emergency management organizations have been working. Its goal is to expand the existing EAS system. Release of CAP V1.2 is seen as a step toward a system that can reach people over a variety of media like PCs and mobile phones, and not just radio and TV.

The FEMA announcement came during the Radio Show here in Washington, where alerting equipment manufacturers and EAS broadcasters have been awaiting it; FEMA approval had been expected by the end of September, which is today. The announcement triggered the FCC’s so-called “180 day clock,” an FCC spokesman confirmed to Radio World. That establishes a deadline six months from now by which radio stations must comply with CAP.

“The new digital message format being adopted by FEMA is the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) v1.2 Standard,” FEMA stated. “This open standard will enable alert messages to be easily composed by emergency management officials for communication with citizens using a much broader set of devices to reach as many people as possible.”

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said in the announcement that IPAWS “will allow federal, state, territorial, tribal and local officials to get critical and timely information to the public that can protect communities and save lives. … The Common Alerting Protocol gives us the opportunity to send one message over all IPAWS alert systems at the same time.”

As RW has reported, FEMA has set up an assessment program to validate that products like broadcast encoders comply with the IPAWS CAP profile. FEMA is responsible for setting protocols and standards for an “integrated” emergency alert system; the FCC is responsible for adopting and enforcing the requirements.