Live Feed: Common Alerting Protocol Workshop of the Last Mile HazInfo Project in Sri Lanka

Posted on July 21, 2006  /  0 Comments

Nandan Jayasinghe —

We will start the event by lighting the traditional oil lamp. Next is a 2 minute meditation.

Nuwan Waidyanatha —

Welcome all partners including, Dr. Gordon Gow (University of Alberta), Dr. Dileeka Dias (Director Dialog Communication Research Lab), Prof Rohan Samarajiva (Director LIRNEasia), Mr. Nanadana Jayasinghe (Director Sarvodaya Disaster Management center), most importantly the Sarvodaya Participants (ICT Guardians).

Rohan Samarajiva —

We started the lat Mile HazInfo Program on January 23, 2006. The objective of my talk is to introduce you to the framework used in this project. The attendees are people who have faced the great tragedy that happened in December 26, 2004. Since then, 20 months later, we still have no solution in our nation.

3 Tsunamis have occurred in the Indian Ocean within the last 20 months. The last tsunami killed over 500 in Indonesia.

We can excuse ourselves for not having a warning system for the 2004 tsunami. But what about the next one? We cannot give excuses any further.

Before we go in to the details I will present the evidence and how is our preparedness– (Associated Press)

    – local time 14:19 a Earthquake happens in the Indian Ocean,- PTWC issues a warning 17 minutes later- 39 minutes later first wave hits the coast

    – message reads … affective coutries Indonesia and Australia

According to the Associated Press, Indonesia promises to roll out warning system in 2009. Welfare Minister Aburizal Bakrie told Associated press “ we are preparing one, but is not finished”. “After earthquake occurred people ran up hill”, V. President of Indonesia

Warning system links

Link 1 – Issue message to from the detection centers

Link 2 – Warn the Government Officials of threats

Link 3 – Warn first-Responders such as police and local government agents

Link 4 – Warn the last mile

Can we talk in past tense instead of future tense. Two other Nations ARE QUIPED with early warning system. Thailand has built a warning towers on beaches across its southern coast. Malaysia HAS positioned two buoys off its coast and have tested the system.

Now countries that speak in future tense; Sri Lanka has a plan to install a national warning system and information will be passed to villages by phones or national media

Rohan asks questions from the audience …

Do you get warnings through the gov now – audience NO

Do you have sirens in Churches, Mosques, and Temples as the Government has promised – audience NO

“Physical world of hazards, symbolic worlds, link technologies & institutions that work imperfectly.”

The Last-Mile HazInfo project is not a public warning system, it is a closed network alerting system. The Last-Mile project envisions on overcoming the lessons learned from the 2004 tsunami — keep ahead of congestions, address point-to-multiple media

We will provides the knowledge for the last mile to make their own response plans and when they are provided with them risk information. The last-Mile First-Responders will react based on the training and the severity of the hazard information.

We do not tell people to evacuate or take action but we only provide the know how and the information for the last mile to make their own decisions

10 deaths and 5 premature births as a result of inappropriate warning by the government in after the great Nyas earthquake in March. The incident happened at night where a people were sleeping.
Disaster Management is a village level duty. Therefore, we will only provide risk information; but will not ask people to evacuate. Sarvodaya is not authorized to issue public warnings but can develop a good information communication network to provide the necessary Disaster related information for local awareness and response planning.

The last-Mile system overcomes all these problems where a wakeup feature has been introduced. This is to help the Government by preparing the last mile.

First phase will evaluate how the organizational level of the villages and whether training is necessary for such a system.

Ultimate objective is to use the research findings to develop a model to implement an alerting solution in 226 of the Tsunami affected villages as a phase 2 of this project; phase 3 will implement a early warning solution for the 15000 Sarvodaya villages.

Gordon Gow —

Objective is to make everyone comfortable with the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP). Presentation will highlight the most relevant aspects that deal with the LM-HWS project. It is a core function of the project

Several Needs:

  • deliver messages to multiple technologies
  • Need to ensure accuracy and consistency in the content
  • – Need future expansion and interoperability

CAP is a mean to deliver information to a diverse set of technology which will be tested on Addressable Satellite Radio (ASR), Fixed Phones, Mobile Phones, Remote Alarm Device (RAD) and VSATs.

CAP Background

  • standardize content of alerts across all hazards and enable multi-media dissemination
  • Works started by the Partnership for Public Warning in 2002
  • PPW submitted a report to OASIS in 2004 – Version 1.0 in the project we are using Version 1.1 approved in 2005
  • XML-based data interchange format being implemented by government and private sector organizations

Why use CAP

  • Open source protocol, which means it is free for us to use
  • systematic Message Composition
  • Multimedia distribution of single message
  • Customization and filtering possibility
  • Growing international recognition and implementation (e.g. WCATWC)
  • Contribution to the evolution of CAP standard itself

All communication systems can be broken into 3 layers –

  1. Content Layer: warning messages
  2. Applicant Layer: mobile phones (WAP, Java, SMS, CB), telephone, radio (text display, text-to-voice), Internet (pop up display, email, rss)
  3. Physical transportation layer (wireless networks and wired networks)

CAP fits in the Application Layer of the communication hierarchy.

A raw CAP message contains the XML tags and is annoying to read (raw software code). A CAP message viewed through a browser still looks very hard to read (raw information only). After applying a style-sheet to the message it can be converted in to a human readable message (clear message).

It very common to use web links in the message to direct readers to additional information such as a map of the effected areas.

A CAP “profile document defines its implementation for the LM-HWS, which is found in the Hazard-Information-Hub (HIH) guidelines; i.e CAP Profile. First-responders must understand certain features of the CAP profile: Alert, Information, resources, Area segments.

The 3 language problem has been solved by using multiple Information blocks; i.e. An Info block for Tamil, Sinhala, and English per message. The priority of the message is based on 3 pieces of the message: Urgency, Severity, Certainty. Urgent messages means that the community must act immediately; high priority implies that the community must be put on stand by; other a low priority message implies that the community must stay vigilant and keep a look out for hazards.

A government warning will be relayed by the HIH over the Sarvodaya network whenever it is issued. HIH will simply copy the government message and past it in the “description” element of the CAP message and set the “Event” as a “government warning”, which is one of the predefined hazard events in CAP.

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