Thursday, June 26, 2014

Code-fest on early warning interoperability

The Code-fest around the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) was a gathering of early warning experts and the Sahana plus IT Industry. They used four CAP-enabled tools and three early warning issues as the basis for learning and experimenting interoperability. This event was an Indian Ocean Tsunami 10th (IOTX) Anniversary commemoration activity that followed from the CAP Jump Start and Implementation Workshops held in Negombo.

Teams and the Tools

Three distinct teams engaged with new software developments used three tools:
[Py-team] Sahana Eden CAP Broker (web2Py SAMBRO; work-in-progress)
[JAR-team] CAP Editer (Java/JavaScript capable of publishing RSS feeds)
[JS-team] HTML/JS/Py Smart-phone CAP Publisher

Eliot Christian (WMO) gave an overview of CAP and I (LIRNEasia) used the Sahana-Krakatoa(LAMP) CAP-enabled Alerting/Messaging Module, designed for training  and simulations, to demonstrate the typical work flows related to "alerting".

The teams had to engage in the predetermined activities:
(A) Integrate an RSS feed to deliver CAP messages
(D) Emulate the Google Alerthub
(B) Recommend features for the FIA Reference Service
(C) Discuss the design requirements for validating event specific data


Data exchanges with RSS

The main task of the three teams were to accomplish activity (A). However, there were renditions of activity A) that The Py-team, further dissolved in to three teams. Fran Boon's group (SSF) worked on the CAP import and Dmonic Konig's (AidIQ) group worked on the CAP export RSS feed. Both of these groups worked f2f at Orion City IT Park along side the other local and foreign participants. Another team with Pat Tressel (University of Washington), Ambar (Birala Technical College), and others were gathering virtually.

The JAR-team already had the RSS feed working before coming to the CAP Code-fest. A bit of improvising had the Java/JavaScript developers, lead by Ishan Ambanwela with automating the concatenation of a string derived from the , , and attributes, to produce the CAP ; typically used for back tracking the message to the originator. Another task was enhancing the software to accommodate multiple polygons with overlapping or disjoint characteristics. each polygon would be saved in a distinct segment of the CAP message to indicate the geographic areas of the targeted recipients.

Akila Ravihansa (WSO2) leading the C-team and working with Michael Randall (USGS Volcano Hazards Program) and Armond Zamanyan (Google Crisis Response) had the mobile CAP publisher to work with. They enhanced it to publish an RSS feed of the CAP message. That message was received by the Eden SAMBRO and confirmed to be importable. These efforts are to work towards developing a Alerthub similar to the one that Google Crisis Response has to offer. The challenge is that Google Alerthub is live and does not provide a platform for Alerting Authorities to test their integrations for delivering CAP messages through Google to the public such as Now+ alerting one of a location specific alert when in the device is in that area.

Alerting in the Ad Space

The FIA reference guide is recommending ways, such as the one on harmonizing action oriented pictographs. These guidelines are mainly for those disseminating alerts through the Internet; including norms members should abide by when practising in this space.

The FIA Reference Service is an XML data structure with an ontology for maintaining various Internet Alerting related resources. These range from pictographs, document, so on and so forth. SSF had suggested that an object type designated for applications would be introduced. For example, the CAP message could carry the Javascript required for executing an application such as for playing the audio version of the message. Another could be that the recipients have options to select as a follow up action, such as acknowledging that "I AM SAFE".

Alerting on Ads is a nifty technology that leverages the capabilities of intelligent advertising technologies to distribute population and geographically targeted Ads in return for guaranteed impressions.

Validating event data

Stuart Weinstein (PTWC) mentioned in his talk at the CAP Implementation Workshop that International Warning Systems are coordinated by the United Nations through the UNESCO/IOC. He emphasized that it would be good if the various seismic monitoring and detection centres responsible for the various regions (shaded in the the map) could exchange the event specific data such as the depth, magnitude, pitch, displacement, etc to apply the Centroid Moment Tensor Model to forecast tsunamis in real-time.

Various stakeholders at the CAP Code-fest, interested in this topic, formed a group to discuss the design approach towards standardizing and verifying such data. When the seismic stations alert the other institutions around the world, they could include the event specific data in a CAP with a URL pointing to repository holding the nested data. Thereby, those who wish to process that data could utilize them.

The consensus of the group was to begin outlining an ontology with the earthquake data as means for testing the first developments. SSF's Standards and Interoperability Committee members: Dominic Konig and Nuwan Waidyanatha will take the lead in developing the blueprints. The goal is to develop it to a level of maturity that a stakeholder like Google would host the "validator".

Concluding remarks

The CAP Code-fest brought together the right number of people to manage such a productive event; where everyone had an opportunity take home some knew piece of knowledge. Looking forward to supporting future CAP Code-fests.