Re: [atoca] Next milestone

"Mark Wood" <> Tue, 25 September 2012 21:28 UTC

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Subject: Re: [atoca] Next milestone
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(FYI my current information is that FEMA IPAWS uses SOAP wrapper to
encapsulate CAP). 

Yes, art is correct. 

The problem is that the politicians hold the 'sovereignty', not the
emergency management community (the originators of messages), nor the
participating distribution network, (such as the cellular networks).

Now if you want to say "its raining quite a lot actually", well no problem,
but if you want to say "leave your home and go to high ground now", this is
completely different and only a properly authorised agent of the sovereign
state may lawfully do that. If an originator sends a command to another
territory, no matter how well meaning, diplomatic storms will result. The
'BBC World Service' has got in a lot of 'hot water' over this despite honest

The decision as to if a polygon should be clipped, parsed, expanded or in
any other way modified will be taken well in advance by the 'Trust Protocol
Board', or equivalent (hopefully) after consultation between stakeholders,
and their decision coded into the gateway for automatic enforcement.
Cellcast gateways for example are designed to handle any such cases if the
MoA demands it, (though it's not mandatory).

And yes, I hope that mutual agreements will emerge in which messages
originated in one territory will be permitted in another, subject to terms
and conditions of the sovereignty targeted by the polygon. We have accounted
for any such possibility. It's possible for an originator to have multiple
permitted polygons even if they are completely non contiguous, or have funny
holes in them. Gateways can share traffic between them so that messages will
be delivered everywhere that they are allowed.

Added to this is the issue that many networks are administered from outside
the territory, for example the mobile switches for some Caribbean islands
are actually on other islands under a different government. No matter, this
is why the filtration must account for any differences in policy before
handing the submission over to the network so that the correct policy is

But even then, neither the originators of the messages nor the participating
networks have national sovereignty; each is only able to do what the laws of
the state concerned allow. Therefore if an agency creates a warning polygon
covering a large number of islands, all of which are separately sovereign,
then the sovereignty of those states needs to be respected. It's the
respective governments who will decide who can say what, where, when and
how, which is why all orders to the public will have to pass through the
government gateway, (as opposed to any technological benefits).

So as to what extent it is "appropriate' to clip polygons", is defined in
the trust protocol for that territory, there is no real moral dilemma here
as far as the originator of the message is concerned, for the eventual fate
of the message downstream is out of his hands. Any 'doctoring' of the
polygon or the contents (such as language) will have occurred before the
network even gets it. 

I share Art's concerns about all of this and I am trying to start a
meaningful dialogue about these issues in advance, but at the moment it
seems that we will have to wait for the first few actual national trust
protocols to be created, then have a review of "best practices" after the
event. However the first international conference about this has already
occurred, (OASIS/ITU Montreal)  with the USA and Canada determined to hash
out a workable policy on all of this which I rather admire. 

I am open to suggestions as to the most appropriate forum for this

Warm regards Mark Wood.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of
Art Botterell
Sent: 25 September 2012 21:47
To: Mark Wood
Subject: Re: [atoca] Next milestone

On Sep 25, 2012, at 12:17 PM, Mark Wood wrote:
> Actually the only component that really needs to translate from FIPS to
> WGS84 is the Aggregator/Gateway system. This is because it needs to apply
> policy to the proposed message on the basis of sovereignty of the
> under the polygon. 

This is another interesting and somewhat subtle point.  To what extent...
and to what end... is it appropriate and/or necessary to "clip" warning
geometries to reflect political boundaries?  I'd suggest that that's a
political consideration, not a technical necessity nor a universal

>From the perspective of public service it might actually be more useful to
convert the other way... given a hazard polygon, compute the list of
jurisdictions (in this case, U.S. counties represented as FIPS-based
strings) than the other way around.  That could provide support for legacy
systems that can't target any more precisely than the county level, and also
provide notification of all jurisdictions touched by an alert, even if the
alert came from a different source (an adjoining jurisdiction, say, or a
national meteorological agency.)

The arguments for limiting alerts to the originating jurisdiction strike me
as possibly less noble.  Certainly government agencies tend to be jealous
and exclusive about their privileges, but hazards don't care.  And am I not
entitled to prompt warning of a nearby hazard just because there happens to
be an administrative boundary in-between?  Will the county line protect me

Indeed, mechanisms aimed at political turf protection were one of the major
sources of delay and warning failure in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

So... how to strike the balance between the privileges of authority and
those of citizenship?  The answer is that it's not actually up to us
Different countries and different cultures will have different values and
legal frameworks.  So we probably want to be cautious about trying to
instantiate any particular value system in technology.

- Art

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