Homeland watch

Emergency protocol gains converts

The Common Alerting Protocol, an XML standard for sending warning messages over many different types of networks, has picked up high-profile users since it debuted in 2004.

Developed by industry and public agencies and adopted by the Homeland Security Department, it is now being used by the National Weather Service, U.S. Geological Survey and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Information Network. The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards approved the latest version of CAP Nov. 30 with geographic, imaging and audio information, encryption and language capabilities.

New look at geospatial analysis

Much is happening to combine geospatial IT with real-time sensor and video inputs and flow modeling software for new tools for homeland security decision-making.

Geographic information is expected to be combined with video and possibly incident command systems in DHS' Secure Border Initiative border surveillance system.

Separately, the American Water Works Association's December newsletter touts an IT product called Geospatial Time-Series Management, combining geographic data with "anything that moves or changes through time," presumably to detect disaster needs and system anomalies more quickly. On the public health front, syndromic surveillance (www.syndromic.org) identifies geographic clusters of activity as an early warning of a possible epidemic.

Push for net-centric border control

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff's new Secure Border Initiative does not go far enough to make a coherent enterprise out of border control, James Jay Carafano, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, wrote Nov. 28. Carafano urges a network-centric approach to make available to decision makers all system knowledge.

An example Carafano cites is creating a "person-centric" immigration IT system that brings all data together based on an identifiable individual. The 30 immigration-related databases are organized by type of application, not by person, he wrote.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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