Saturday, November 20, 2010

Emergency Broadcast Alerts coming to your Cell Phone, baning of Mobile Cell Phones, baning of parental rights...

This week I noted a couple of different items that are a good example of the right hand of the Government not knowing what the left hand of the Government is doing, in the headlines this week. The first being that the Government is establishing a system to push Emergency Broadcast Alerts to our Cell Phones and other electronic widgets. The second is the banning of using Cell Phones while in a vehicle, so we could not get them while moving.

As the first item has some technology relevant to embedded systems I'll cover it first. Over at The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) we find the following announcement:

"... announced the adoption of a new digital message format for the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), the nation's next generation emergency alert and warning network. The new digital message format being adopted by FEMA is the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) v1.2 Standard. This open standard will enable alert messages to be easily composed by emergency management officials for communication with citizens using a much broader set of devices to reach as many people as possible. The three documents defining the FEMA IPAWS technical standards and requirements for CAP and its implementation are: (1) OASIS CAP Standard v1.2; (2) IPAWS Specification to the CAP Standard (CAP v1.2 IPAWS USA Profile v1.0); (3) CAP to EAS Implementation Guide."

First leaving one to wonder what is the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), and where to find the Common Alerting Protocol Version 1.2 standard.

OASIS, Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, is a not-for-profit consortium that drives the development, convergence and adoption of open standards for the global information society. OASIS is a good place to look before you go off and invent yet an other new standard; "The great thing about Standards, is everyone can have their own." OASIS has an Emergency subdivision where we find out the details about CAP.


"The Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) is a simple but general format for exchanging all-hazard emergency alerts and public warnings over all kinds of networks. CAP allows a consistent warning message to be disseminated simultaneously over many different warning systems, thus increasing warning effectiveness while simplifying the warning task. CAP also facilitates the detection of emerging patterns in local warnings of various kinds, such as might indicate an undetected hazard or hostile act. And CAP provides a template for effective warning messages based on best practices identified in academic research and real-world experience."

The OASIS open standards consortium ... announced approval of the Emergency Data Exchange Language (EDXL) Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) version 1.2, a message format for exchanging emergency alerts and public warnings over all kinds of networks. Advanced via an international collaboration of the public and private sectors, CAP 1.2 is now an official OASIS Standard, a status that signifies the highest level of ratification.

EDXL-CAP allows a consistently well structured message to be disseminated simultaneously over many different warning systems. The standard is simple to understand and easy to implement. Its all-hazard, all-media format means it can provide notifications via radio, television, cell phones, email, and other media. The new version of CAP delivers digital signature support, which offers added security and authentication for next-generation alerting systems.

--- OASIS News Augest 12, 2010.

As an aside, the "Earthquake Report" example in the CAP v1.2 Appendix, reminded me of something I wanted to pass on. Check your home owners insurance to see if you have Earthquake Insurance. Unless you live in someplace like California, your house insurance does not cover Earthquakes without an additional rider, which is generally fairly inexpensive. Check with your insurance agent, because the insurance is cheap in places that don't normal have them. However in the history of the North America Continent the biggest Earthquakes happened in places that did not normally have Earthquakes. If you wait till you have even a miner tremor before investing in this cheap insurance, you'll have to wait a month or more before the policy would take effect.

I also came across Alcatel-Lucent's announcement of their new Broadcast Message Center solution to help service providers turn mobile phones into life savers. While I'm sure there is a connection to this and the FEMA announcement above, finding a tangible link to cite eludes me at the moment.

I just hope they don't make me pay for these incoming messages, Cell Phone Spam is a distraction we do not need. What happens during Rush Hour when everyone gets the same message at the same time and no one is looking at the road??

That brings us to the second item I mentioned in the opening of this Blog entry, Cell Phone Distractions.

The Internet rummer mill has miss quoted U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood as saying the Government is working towards preventing Cell Phones from working in moving vehicles, because of the distractions that they cause.

Over at the official blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, we find out what he actually said about Setting the record straight on technological solutions to distracted driving:

"There's a lot of technology out there now that can disable phones and we're looking at that. A number of [cell technology innovators] came to our Distracted Driving Summit here in Washington and presented their technology, and that's one way. But you have to have good laws, you have to have good enforcement, and you have to have people take personal responsibility. That's the bottom line."

The new Government run site Distraction shows some graphic examples of how Distracted Driving kills.

"U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Monday, September 20, 2010 announced that distracted driving-related crashes claimed 5,474 lives and led to 448,000 traffic injuries across the U.S. in 2009. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research, distraction-related fatalities represented 16 percent of overall traffic fatalities in 2009 - the same percentage as in 2008."

Perhaps the right hand group and the left hand group, should spend some time over at the University of Minnesota's HumanFIRST: Human Factors Interdisciplinary Research in Simulation and Transportation project?

"The HumanFIRST (Human Factors Interdisciplinary Research in Simulation and Transportation) Program employs the tools and methods of psychology and human factors engineering to improve scientific understanding of driver performance and cognitive functions."

In the Law of Unintended Consequences the site Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute, tells us in their September 28th, 2010 report that, Texting bans don't reduce crashes; effects are slight crash increases because the Texter is trying harder to hide what they are doing, becoming even more distracted.

Never rely on politicians and bureaucrats to understand what they are doing...

A good example of the good intentions of politicians that turn out badly is Article #2, among many other sections, from the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The CRC is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its State parties. Ratified by all nations except the United States and Somalia. Which is something that some in our current Lame Duck Congress what to change before the end of the year. For our international readers, a Lame Duck in this context is a member of Congress that lost their reelection bid, but still has the power to make law until their new replacement is sworn in at the first of the New Year. Since they lost, Lame Ducks are considered the most dangerous kind of politician of all, because they are no longer answerable to their constituents.

Article 2:

"...2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child's parents, legal guardians, or family members."

Have you ever meet a child or teenager that did not need disciplined? Sending your Teen to their room for a week for Texting while driving might just cause Lawyers, or worse, to show up at your door...

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