The WMO Fast-Track initiative to implement the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) is yielding quick result. Since it launch in 2021, 18 countries in Africa have come on board and WMO is looking to expand the initiative to other regions.
The CAP standard is an essential element for communicating key facts about any kind of emergency over all available media. CAP warning messages focus on the type of event, urgency, severity – captured through the level of threat to life and property – and certainty, that is the probability of occurrence of the event. Messages contain text and coded values useful for filtering, routing and automatic translations of warnings. Some CAP-editing tools and platforms, such as the cloud-based CAP editor, are freely available. The CAP standard caters to all types of emergencies and media and disseminates quickly over multiple alerting channels. CAP messages from Members are rooted through the Register of WMO Members Alerting Authorities. The Register was established to record the Authoritative Sources of warnings, thus enabling aggregators to recognize warnings coming from genuine, authorized sources. The CAP warning process is shown in Figure 1.
Given the benefits of a successfully implemented CAP system, WMO launched a CAP Fast-Track initiative in 2021. Within the initiative, country experts that have already implemented CAP offer training to teams from neighbouring countries so that they can implement the CAP system in their respective countries. The initiative is currently expediting CAP operationalization for Members in WMO Region I, Africa, in view of the strong expression of intent to implement CAP during the 18th session of Regional Association I (RA I, August 2021). To date, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania have provided experts through formal implementation arrangements with WMO. The Secretariat is collaborating with the CAP experts and teams from the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) to promote the sustained operational use of CAP in the Region. The initiative provides capacity building; assists in selecting a CAP editing facility, nominating an Editor to the WMO Register, guiding the editor in inserting the CAP source URL in the Register; and establishes Standard Operating Procedures for mainstreaming CAP in the warning process of the NMHS.
Region I has favourably responded to the CAP Fast-Tracking process: 18 of its Members States have operationalized CAP since the initiative was launch. These are Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Seychelles, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. But much remains to be done. Figure 2 demonstrates CAP Fast-track implementation updates by Members.
In view of the progress made in Region I, assessments of CAP implementation in the other WMO Regions have been undertaken and many Members have outstanding action points for CAP readiness. WMO is ready to assist Members with the implementation of CAP. Scaling up and sustaining CAP over time is one of the keys to the success of the Global Multi-hazard Alert System (GMAS), which seeks to “increase and enhance the availability of authoritative warnings and information related to extreme and/or potentially high-impact weather, water and climate events – regionally and globally.”