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Subject: RE: [emergency] Talking Point re CAP and CEA "Public Alert"

Walid -

Of course context is important.  That's why I'm suggesting we not try 
to apply technical definitions beyond their appropriate context.  We 
need to remember that the rest of the world uses many words 

As a practical matter I believe the general public understands 
"compatible" to mean "won't interfere."  And most direct stakeholders 
(emergency managers, product marketers, elected officials) really 
take "compatible" to mean "won't make my existing product, system or 
program less valuable, or make my prior decisions look bad."  We can 
use  more rigorous definitions within our technical community, but 
most folks have mundane concerns.  And if they're interested in the 
technical details, those are all available.

Anyway "compatible" * isn't the same thing as "identical."  The 
content of SAME (including CEA's "extended SAME") format messages can 
be expressed fully and directly in the CAP format... even though, 
because SAME is an older and less flexible standard, not everything 
that can be expressed in a CAP message can be communicated in SAME. 
That's one way in which CAP represents progress.

As for "interoperability"... CAP is a content standard, not a system 
architecture.  Interoperability depends on how and where CAP is 
used.... just like interoperability of voice radios depends on a 
whole set of factors... frequency, modulation scheme, network 
architecture, content format, management procedure and so on.

For example, voice radios can operate on different frequencies and 
still interoperate if the network architecture (a repeater or a 
cross-channel patch) links them.  So are they "reeeeeeeeally" 
interoperable?  Below the functional level the question rapidly loses 
meaning, especially for end-users whose only goal is getting messages 
from A to B.

Anyway, this isn't really a TC issue, it's more of a PR and/or 
marketing concern... unless the TC proposes to go into the 
compatibility certification business, which I think we'd decided not 
to do.  I was just offering a personal informational suggestion in 
case anyone got blindsided by this issue.  Nothing normative or 
mandatory about it.

- Art

At 11:13 AM -0400 4/10/04, Walid Ramadan wrote:
>Art, I beleive the context is actually extremely important. It looks 
>like "compatible" is being used to imply that CAP can "interoperate" 
>with those other systems, but not "reeeeeeeeally" interoperate with 
>them.  So which way is it? Does it or does it not? I believe the 
>introduction of terms such as "co-exist", "constructive", and 
>"relatively" to define "compatible" is only making the definition of 
>"compatible" more elusive.  And given that the folks you listed are 
>not tech-savvy, how do we ensure that their definition of 
>"compatible" is, to use your term, "compatible" with ours? Could it 
>be that in their minds, compatible means fully interoperable?
>	-----Original Message-----
>	From: Art Botterell [mailto:acb@incident.com]
>	Sent: Thu 4/8/2004 9:57 PM
>	To: bob@wyman.us; emergency@lists.oasis-open.org
>	Cc:
>	Subject: RE: [emergency] Talking Point re CAP and CEA "Public Alert"
>	Bob, do any of us really have time to split hairs about the word
>	"compatible" in this context?
>	The folks at the Weather Service, the folks at the FCC and the folks
>	at CEA have all expressed satisfaction that CAP is compatible with
>	their existing systems... in that they can co-exist and interoperate
>	in a constructive and (relatively) convenient way.  (Please remember
>	that most of the policy- and decision-makers involved in warning
>	systems aren't computer-business folk and don't necessarily use words
>	in their most technical sense.)
>	Of course, if you aren't comfortable using the word, you don't have
>	to.  And if you'd like to offer a suggestion of a better word, feel
>	free.
>	- Art
>	At 8:16 PM -0400 4/8/04, Bob Wyman wrote:
>	>Art Botterell wrote:
>	>>  We're the new guys on the block, and we're taken pains
>	>>  to be compatible with the old established systems.
>	>       There is that "compatible" word again... I was surprised to
>	>see it at the bottom of Art's message since everything up to that
>	>point seemed to be acknowledging that CAP *was not* compatible with
>	>existing systems and explaining why it wasn't compatible. (Note: Not
>	>being compatible is *not* a negative thing. It is just a statement of
>	>fact.)
>	>       So, can you please explain what is meant by "compatible"? The
>	>usage here is foreign to me and doesn't seem to conform to either my
>	>experience or the definitions given in the dictionaries that I use.
>	>       Perhaps there is some intent to indicate a non-syntactical
>	>compatibility. i.e. While the syntaxes, message formats, etc. are
>	>incompatible, there is some attempt to remain "compatible" in terms of
>	>concepts, philosophy, etc. Is this what you're getting at? If so, I
>	>think it would be better to say that. "Compatibility" in the computer
>	>business is usually a question of syntax and format -- not concept. My
>	>concern is that if this apparently "unusual" usage of the word
>	>"compatible" continues, people may come to think that the CAP TC is
>	>making promises that can't be kept. Or, they might just assume that it
>	>simply is not much of an advance over what has been traditionally
>	>available. (i.e. if CAP *was* compatible with EAS, etc. then it
>	>*couldn't* be very different from them.)... This would not be good.
>	>
>	>               bob wyman
>	>
>	>-----Original Message-----
>	>From: Art Botterell [mailto:acb@incident.com]
>	>Sent: Thursday, April 08, 2004 7:03 PM
>	>To: emergency@lists.oasis-open.org
>	>Subject: Re: [emergency] Talking Point re CAP and CEA "Public Alert"
>	>
>	>
>	>At 2:19 PM -0700 4/8/04, Kon Wilms wrote:
>	>>The only compatibility I see is that at some point in time the Public
>	>
>	>>Alert message elements can be stuffed into a CAP message for
>	>transport
>	>>on headend networks.
>	>
>	>Right now that's right.  It's a backward compatibility challenge that
>	>we're addressing at the content level.  And saying CAP is compatible
>	>with Public Alert (or NWR, or EAS) is not the same as saying the
>	>reverse.
>	>
>	>Obviously it's going to take more than a couple of weeks for the
>	>existing public warning infrastructure to convert to CAP.
>	>Fortunately (and by design) it's not an all-or-nothing proposition.
>	>
>	>And looking at it politically, if we want uptake for CAP, seems like
>	>we may want to avoid appearing to detract from any of the major
>	>existing players.  Instead, we may want to emphasize how CAP can make
>	>existing systems even better.  Over time, I'm confident the benefits
>	>of CAP will become clear to everyone and its use will become more
>	>pervasive.
>	>
>	>>It isn't compatible with the NWS system from the point where one can
>	>>just take an NWS message like EMWIN products and stuff them into a
>	>CAP
>	>>file.
>	>
>	>True, because NWS doesn't enforce strict structures for their text
>	>products.  The current NWS text system comes from a tradition of
>	>"rip-and-read" teletype copy meant for human reading, not for easy
>	>computer processing.
>	>
>	>NWS management are well aware of the huge variations in how different
>	>forecast offices format their products, but it's a huge organization
>	>and change takes time.  Besides, until now there wasn't an industry
>	>standard available... and the current administration is very much
>	>oriented toward industry-generated standards.
>	>
>	>There's been progress:  The LAT...LON convention for describing
>	>precise target area coordinates in "short fuse" warning products is
>	>being used pretty consistently... and the "bullet" format used by a
>	>number of offices for warnings can be mapped fairly precisely into
>	>the component elements of a CAP document.  And their experiment using
>	>CAP suggests that NWS is actively considering moving to more
>	>structured formats.
>	>
>	>But in the meantime it's a little like copying VHS to DVD... the
>	>output product can't be any better than the input.  The best we can
>	>do is make sure that we can accurately reflect the input, however
>	>structured or unstructured it may be.
>	>
>	>>I don't see any CAP compatible files coming over the GOES satellite
>	>>feeds (thats the real stuff I care about - test feeds are good for
>	>demo
>	>>only).
>	>
>	>NWS has a whole process they have to go through to adopt new
>	>technology.  The first step is an "experimental" service, which is
>	>what they're doing now.  So if you want CAP feeds by satellite, I'd
>	>encourage you to communicate your support to Bob Bunge in the NWS
>	>CIO's office (<robert.bunge@noaa.gov>) so he'll have ammunition to
>	>persuade his management to take that next step.
>	>
>	>>CAP and XML in general is also
>	>>too wordy to transmit quickly at a low datarate - the 3000+ products
>	>>that are transmitted at 2400 and 9600bps over GOES would never come
>	>>through in a timely fashion if they were all reformatted to CAP spec.
>	>
>	>This objection comes up regularly... but as you've demonstrated, XML
>	>compresses really well, and that's a fairly routine, standards-based
>	>solution.
>	>
>	>>CAP is only compatible with the NWS system when the NWS decides to
>	>>reformat all their products to CAP and starts distributing them over
>	>>their satellite feeds. This is just my opinion, however.
>	>
>	>Get your point, but I think that may be putting the shoe on the wrong
>	>foot.  We're the new guys on the block, and we're taken pains to be
>	>compatible with the old established systems.  We can hope to see a
>	>migration toward more modern methods as the benefits of CAP are
>	>demonstrated, and as consumers start asking providers to make the
>	>move.
>	>
>	>- Art
>	>
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