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Subject: NOAA Undermining International Standards?

Friends -

As you may be aware, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric  
Administration (NOAA), in a bid to expand its role in national public  
warning, is representing its new "HazCollect" all-hazard warning  
program as using the OASIS Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) standard.

Regrettably, what NOAA is proposing to roll out nationwide in the  
next few months is a crippled and incomplete version of the CAP data  

If NOAA was a warning system provider like any other, that might be a  
minor and ultimately self-correcting glitch.  But what NOAA is about  
to unwrap is nothing less than a national backbone network for public  
warnings of all kinds.  The sheer size and scope of the NOAA effort  
means there'll be strong pressure on other warning technology  
providers to conform to the NOAA-variant specification.  That will  
leave firms and agencies in the U.S. and abroad that already have  
implemented CAP per the international specification at a severe  

Despite numerous requests over the past six months, and spurning  
offers of technical assistance and even of funds from local  
governments to bring HazCollect into full CAP compliance, the NOAA  
officials in charge of HazCollect have stubbornly declined to have  
their contractor, the Battelle Memorial Foundation, make the  
relatively minor--by their own admission--adjustments required for  
full CAP compliance.

Regrettably, we can no longer ignore the possibility that NOAA is  
trying deliberately to drive a wedge between implementers and the  
international standards process.  One reason might be that the  
restrictions NOAA is trying to impose on CAP serve to mask serious  
and long-standing shortcomings in existing warning systems, including  
ones operated by NOAA.

But we don't need to speculate about motives to see that we are at a  
crossroads for the adoption of open standards by the U.S.  
Government.  If federal agencies start to rewrite science-based  
consensus standards by dint of raw administrative muscle, that will  
leave the technology market at the mercy of unrestrained  
bureaucracy.  It will inflict huge costs on industry and the public  
and be an enormous setback for international humanitarian relief and  
the global war on terror.

It's too bad that quiet diplomacy was unable to resolve this before  
it became public.  However, with the national deployment of  
HazCollect's "initial operating capacity" just weeks away, it's time  
for the standards community to take a stand for standards compliance  
and transparency.

Therefore, speaking as the original architect and editor of the  
Common Alerting Protocol, I'm calling on the OASIS Emergency  
Management Technical Committee and its members to demand that  
HazCollect not be declared operational until its CAP implementation  
is complete and fully compliant with the published specifications.

Our integrity is being tested now.  Either we stand up for open, non- 
proprietary standards or we stand by as our work becomes a stalking- 
horse for narrow institutional interests.  I'm confident that the  
agencies, organizations and individuals who've invested so much hard  
work in standards development over the last few years won't let that  
work be distorted or dismissed.

- Art

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