Open source and messaging's future

Last byte: A conversation with Art Botterell, national expert in warning systems and former FEMA official.

We have about 1.2 million people, includingareas of expensive homes as well as incidents at the oilrefineries along the coast. The warning system has beenmultimodal since the mid-1990s. It is all-hazards, fullyintegrated and everything is automatic. It feeds intosirens, weather radios, Emergency Alert System, telephonenotification, cable television and travelers' aidmessaging.For cell phone notifications, I just finished serving onthe Commercial Mobile Service Advisory Committee tothe FCC, as part of the Warn Act. What we found was that if you start with thetechnology, you have to devise the message to fit thetechnology. With CAP, we started with the social scienceand the need for public warnings. We defined the characteristicsof an effective warning system and messagingsystem and developed it from there to fit multipledevices and formats.An effective message has to hit you two to three times,so it has to be multimodal. Most people will not evacuatebased on a solitary message. Absolutely. It's a triumphof the open-sourceapproach to solve a problem:people just saying, "Let's do it!"The CAP never would have happenedif we relied on the marketplace,or on the government, asneither was interested in creatingthis.Now vendors are producingtechnology they interpret as CAP compatible.It may be just buzzword-compliant, but at least theyare recognizing CAP as a featurethat communities want. IPAWS seems to havebeen shrunk so that instead ofbeing an umbrella system, it willbe a collection of products. Theproblem I see is that the agenda isbeing driven by vendors. The riskis that we may end up with thepublic warning system that is themost profitable to build, ratherthan the one that is most complete,open and effective.We need to have more competition.The difficulty is thatthere is not an enormousamount of money to be made inpreparedness. You can prepare for adisaster with the NationalIncident Management Systemand the National ResponseFramework, but the reality isalways messy and unpredictable.There always will be chaos andpeople who have not workedtogether before. You need somethinglike a Google search engineavailable to help officials quicklyidentify all assets available forresponse, regardless of the source.That is the next frontier. We needhelp with navigation, indexingand discussing.We constantly need innovationto solve the really deep and interestingproblems. If we allow theexisting set of contractors todefine the space, they will defineit with solutions that they alreadyhave.I hope that the CAP can serveas an example of an alternativeway of doing things from thegrass-roots. Open-source computingis a vital partner for developingsolutions.
When Art Botterell was helping develop public warning systems
in California a decade ago, the state already had sirens
and broadcast TV messaging. So he and others began adding
telephones, weather radios and computers.

"Each time we added to the system, it got a lot more complex,"
said Botterell, a national expert in warning systems and former
Federal Emergency Management Agency official
who now is county warning system manager
for Contra Costa County, Calif.

He saw an urgent need for a common messaging
format that would be freely available
to all vendors and users. He helped organize
a grass-roots effort in 2000 and 2001 for
more than 100 computer programming volunteers
active in emergency management to
create an Extensible Markup Language format
for public warning messages. It was
named the Common Alerting Protocol, or
CAP.

In 2004, the Organization for the
Advancement of Structured Information
Standards approved CAP, and since then, it
has been adopted as an official standard for
federal warning systems by FEMA, the
Federal Communications Commission, the
National Weather Service, and other federal,
state and local agencies.

Botterell spoke recently with Washington Technology staff
writer Alice Lipowicz about the role of grass-roots volunteerism,
innovation and open standards-based information technology
in homeland security and emergency communications.


Q: How did the warning systems develop in Contra
Costa County?

Botterell:













Q: What was the inspiration for CAP?

Botterell:












Q: Has CAP been a success?

Botterell:

















Q: What do you think of FEMA's
adoption of CAP for the Integrated
Public Alert and Warning System
(IPAWS)?

Botterell:


















Q: What is the most pressing
need in emergency warning
technology?

Botterell:






























X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.