Emergency Notification Systems and Crisis Communication – Blog

Alert Integrations - The Benefits of CAP

Frank McCathran By Frank McCathran

Sending text emergency notifications to the population you are responsible for has become the default minimum standard for timely warnings. However, just sending text messages to your people during an emergency is not enough. Although the majority of people will have their mobile phones on their person, you can’t count on that one endpoint as the only means of notifying them in the case of an emergency.


Busy people are dispersed throughout the day and often in transit. Reaching everyone can be a challenge. This challenge necessitates the ability to deliver emergency notifications via every communication channel available, instantaneously and simultaneously. Text notifications are critical; however, delivering notifications to a multitude of endpoints via common formats is now a best practice.


One common format to help expand your efforts in reaching more people is the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP). CAP is a general XML-based data format that allows for a consistent and timely exchange of all-hazard emergency alerts to endpoints and platforms that are CAP-enabled. Therefore, increasing the likelihood that your population receives the intended alert via one or more communication channels.


More and more hardware and software systems have been built and upgraded to send and receive CAP. In addition to government issued alerts via NOAA, NWS, FEMA, and the FCC, there are a vast number of systems or services that can leverage the power of CAP to ensure more people receive the information they need - when they need it.


Websites leverage CAP to have messages posted or popped up on organization’s websites or through their instant messaging apps. Social Media networks afford the opportunity for notifications to be posted on social networking sites. Even online gaming systems can be enabled to push alerts to gaming screens. Siren systems, digital signs, weather-alerting systems, and emergency telephone networks can be enabled to activate auditory, visual, or voice playback through CAP. Due to the CAP’s capabilities, the needs of hearing or visually impaired persons are better served.


Emergency notifications systems (ENS) are no different. Any ENS should also be able to disseminate and accept CAP.  As an example, Omnilert Scenarios can be triggered by the receipt of a CAP message.  Once a qualifying incoming CAP message is received, an emergency scenario can launch automatically - basically dispersing the CAP notification to your designated population by whatever endpoints you define. Omnilert can also send a CAP formatted message to any CAP-enabled system; therefore, activating that device, system, or software.


Timely and appropriate alerting does enable people to reduce damage and loss of life from natural and man-made hazards.  People do not typically act on the first notification; they look for confirmation. CAP can help your population get that confirmation by enabling more endpoints than just text-messaging provides.  And it affords your organization the opportunity to cut through the patchwork of alerting systems and formats. CAP is COMMON and can be used to help assure alerts are timely and reach everyone who needs them - no matter where they are and what they are doing.


To get more ideas to help your organization reach more people, download the Alerting is Not Enough white paper. 



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