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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

U.S. National Weather Service Starts Multi-Phase CAP Improvement Project

This article was published in the 2008/Volume 1 NOAA NWS Aware Report
by Herb White, NWS Dissemination Services Manager. [An earlier article]
"described the proposed addition of Instruction Field 'markers' into
NWS WMO-formatted text Watch/Warning/Advisory/Statements (W/W/A/S).
The proposal is not intended to make W/W/A/S products into Common
Alerting Protocol (CAP) formatted messages or even move in that direction.
Rather, it is needed to improve NWS production of the separate suite of
CAP messages by early 2009 to include distinct event 'Description' and
'Instruction' elements. Without a marker, there is no reliable way to
parse the CAP Instruction element from existing WMO-formatted text
products and create a separate CAP Instruction element. This proposal
is the only change to existing NWS products enabling CAP message
production. NWS has an experimental Webpage that provides reformatted
W/W/A/S products in Extensible Markup Language (XML) for various feeds
and displays. These CAP messages have not been satisfactorily formatted.
World Meteorological Organization (WMO) formatted products do not
provide information needed to populate certain CAP fields. To
aggressively respond to the urgent need for standardized CAP compliant
message format for NWS W/W/A events, NWS has started a multi-phased
project with some tasks progressing in parallel. NWS will request public
review and comment on proposed improvements shortly. NWS will improve
the experimental CAP-formatted messages and continue to make them
available online. At the same time, NWS will develop the Next Generation
Warning Tool (NGWT) that will generate CAP messages in native format.
NGWT will deliver AWIPS W/W/A applications through a more standardized
approach than currently used. NGWT will modularize the applications.
This will allow warning applications to be flexible enough to respond
to changing technologies and user requirements. Products issued using
the new NGWT will be formatted for transmission on NOAAPort, the NWWS,
and NWS Webpage... This CAP solution will provide numerous benefits
[including]: (1) Partners will have XML/Keyhole Markup Language formats
to enable use of NWS products in better ways, such as with Geographic
Information System applications. In addition XML reduces the cost of
entry for NWS partners to parse and use NWS local products; for example,
rip currents alerts will be available in standard national formats.
(2) CAP will enhance government's "situational awareness" at the state,
regional and national levels by providing a continual real time database
of all warnings, even local ones. Local warnings in CAP, unavailable
to state and local officials at present, could be crucial to the timely
evaluation of certain threats, like biological terrorist attacks, which
are most readily identified by detecting patterns in local responses...
A future Aware article will describe how NWS CAP initiatives relate to
other CAP initiatives in and outside the federal government.

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