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Subject: Re: [emergency] NOAA Undermining International Standards?

On Jun 1, 2006, at 6/1/06 6:12 AM, Rex Brooks wrote:
> Thanks for the heads up, Art,  Can you provide the specific parts  
> of CAP that are not being implemented?

Rex -

What's really tragic here is that the problem would be trivial if it  
didn't have such lethal potential.

First off, let me stress that my concern is NOT with the various NOAA/ 
Battelle requirements that certain CAP-optional elements be treated  
as mandatory.  (E.g., while one might debate the wisdom of mandating  
use of the legacy SAME coding on such a massive scale... thus  
perpetuating SAME's obsolescent and inflexible geographic targeting  
and slowing the move to true geospatial/location-based alerting...  
it's still a legitimate "profile" requirement in terms of the CAP  

But where HazCollect left the fold altogether was in their unilateral  
choice not to support the CAP <instruction> element.  Which means  
that a well-formed CAP message, with the hazard description in  
<description> and the safety instructions in <instruction>, would  
lose a critical part of its meaning in transiting the HazCollect  
network.  Remove the sender's instructions from a message and people  
could get killed.

The ostensible reason for this is that the existing Weather Radio and  
EAS delivery systems are limited to two minutes of audio,  
corresponding to something like 240 written words.  The HazCollect  
answer has been to truncate the <description> field at 240 words and  
to ignore the content of the <instruction> element altogether.   
Obviously it would be a simple matter to concatenate-and-trim (or  
trim-and-concatenate) the two fields, but for some reason NOAA has  
chosen consistently to make excuses ("not in the original design" /  
"no money") instead of simply writing the requisite change order.

In delving into this with various NOAA and Battelle staff, an  
underlying concern has surfaced... that the existing NOAA "weather  
wire" teletype format makes no structural distinction between the  
informational and "call to action" section of their messages.  Why  
this would matter one way or the other is unclear to me, except  
possibly as reflecting a desire not to allow anything into HazCollect  
that would make pre-existing systems look bad by comparison.

A subtle but crucial distinction is involved here, between providing  
for compatibility with legacy systems and imposing the limits of  
those legacy systems on future technologies.  The OASIS Emergency  
Management Technical Committee and its predecessor, the CAP Working  
Group, both went to great pains in designing CAP to provide for back- 
compatibility without sacrificing the design requirements we drew  
from the social science research on how effective warning systems work.

But the real issue isn't a particular design choice, it's a policy  
under which NOAA seems to be trying to rewrite the CAP specification  
without consultation or formal process.  That goes to the credibility  
of the entire standards effort.

- Art

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