A Closer Look at the Alabama CAP ‘First’

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Paul McLane is U.S. editor in chief.

Radio World reported last week that Alabama had achieved a statewide Common Alert Protocol-compliant rollout, using Global Security Systems technology, among other elements.

In the original version of that story we quoted a statement from GSS that this had created the country’s first statewide CAP-compliant rollout for creating and retrieving emergency alerts. Several people questioned the assertion of a “first.”

Don Miller, Washington state’s telecommunications and warning systems manager, reminded us that Washington rolled out CAP in 2004, as reported in our profile of Miller earlier this year.

Edward Czarnecki, a senior exec with equipment maker Digital Alert Systems, said Pennsylvania uses Comlabs EMnet for origination and dissemination of CAP EAS. “They already upgraded every broadcast and cable site in the state of Pennsylvania with CAP receiving capability. And EMnet CAP distribution was written into their latest FCC-approved state EAS plan. This CAP predates the GSS contract by a year or more. EMnet provided standard EAS in Pennsylvania a few years even before that.”

Maryland and the District of Columbia, Czarnecki wrote, both use Comlabs EMnet for origination and dissemination of CAP EAS to broadcasters across the state. “In addition, CAP EAS distribution is also provided via the EMnet system in Virginia, Alaska (30 sites to begin with), Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana and elsewhere.”He noted the EAS activities in Washington state, which uses MyStateUSA CAP EAS origination and dissemination, and said a similar system is in place in Idaho. And Missouri initiated a CAP system including a CAP server at Missouri Highway Patrol and 56 broadcast sites. The system began initial operations in the first half of 2009.

Radio World asked Global Security to respond or clarify the claim of a “first.”

“GSS stands by its claim that Alabama deployed the first satellite-based, end-to-end CAP statewide network,” stated Robert Adams, president and CEO. “We acknowledge the leadership of Washington State in the deployment of its terrestrial CAP system.

“In addition to being satellite-based, the other distinction of the GSS system is that the CAP message is delivered directly to all CAP broadcast devices — it is not first translated to EAS for broadcast by a legacy EAS encoder.”

Reporting such developments accurately is important. Looking over this matter, I think that the original announcement could have been worded more clearly, and that RW also should have examined it more closely. We quoted the announcement accurately, but incompletely.

I welcome further updates about EAS and CAP developments in your state and/or your broadcast company. E-mail me at radioworld@nbmedia.com.

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