We started working on the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) back in 2005. Nuwan Waidyanatha was running workshops on CAP by mid 2006. We made mobile operators and software firms working with them aware of the value of CAP. Nuwan kept teaching how to use it all over the world. But with Nuwan moving to Kunming and funded research ending, the activity tapered down.
Based on writing and interviews done in June 2015 in the context of LIRNEasia’s events organized to mark the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami on December 2004 http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Regional/2014/12/22/Contributing-to-global-knowledge/. The first multilingual trials of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) – a data format for exchanging public warnings and emergencies between alerting technologies – were carried out in Sri Lanka as part of the Hazard Information Project funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre.
The 2014 LIRNEasia Disaster Risk Reduction Lecture focused on all aspects of the early warning ‘chain’ and what advances have been made in the ten years since the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. On the whole the message that was conveyed was very positive. Tremendous progress has been made both in the science of understanding when a tsunami has been generated and in the deployment of instruments throughout the world’s oceans, including the Indian Ocean. The purpose of all this effort and investment is getting people out of harm’s way. That means that warnings, including evacuation orders, have to be effectively communicated to all those in harm’s way; that evacuation must be orderly; and most importantly, that the evacuees take the appropriate action willingly and with knowledge.
From today’s Financial Times: When asked to explain the importance of CAP, I find it helpful to contrast today’s media and disaster-management environments with those that existed at the time of the 1978 east coast cyclone where around 250,000 people were displaced (about the same as by the 2004 tsunami), but only around 900 died (as against over 30,000 in 2004). Then, there was only one electronic media organisation, the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. It had six channels, but the news and information on all six channels originated from one news room (I worked there in 1978). We easily coordinated with the Department of Meteorology, the sole entity responsible for cyclone warnings. On the ground there were far fewer electronic media devices than now, but people like the late GA Mr Anthonymuttu were able to effectively move people out of harm’s way.