The National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) has a new hazard and disaster alerting app, Common Alerting Protocol, or CAP.
The CAP, which is an international standard messaging format designed for quick dissemination across multiple technologies, is now operational in Antigua and Barbuda. Members of the public can now receive hazard alerts via their smart phones, emails, and now through ABS TV and Radio interrupts within seconds. The CAP is available for download through the Android Play Store or Apple APP Store.
Minister of Social Transformation the Hon. Samantha Marshall applauds the effort and says…the CAP represents an advancement in technology… and (its usefulness) across all sectors including visitors to our island.”
The CAP has been endorsed by several agency heads, including Commissioner of Police Atlee Rodney, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Walter Christopher and Director of Antigua Barbuda Meteorological Service Dale Destin. Destin states that “the CAP is a game changer in how quickly warnings can be sent out to the public especially for hydrological hazards; although it is just one significant component of the National Early Warning System.”
NODS Projects Officer Delamine Andrew Williams notes “the goal is to continuously update and expand the CAP to include all technologies in disaster risk management, such as Tower Sirens and SMS texts.” She further adds that “NODS has been in dialogue with Minister of Telecommunications the Honourable Melford Nicholas to find ways to advance the CAP through zero rated sms texts across all service providers.” NODS began testing the CAP throughout various communities and gathering feedback in 2019 prior to its official launch.
The national project forms part of the regional project “Strengthen integrated and cohesive preparedness capacity at a regional, national and community level in the Caribbean, implemented in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescents and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Authority. Funding came from the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid (OCHA).
The project, valued at US$66,000, consisted of two phases and saw the purchase and installation of the CAP hardware and software in addition to facilitating several training sessions and briefing workshops with key government agencies.
Five key government agencies were trained in using the CAP to deliver immediate alerts or warnings to the public, namely: Antigua Barbuda Meteorological Services, Antigua Barbuda Defence Force, the Antigua Barbuda Royal Police Force, the Fire Department and the Ministry of Health.
NODS will continue to provide annual training in addition to updating the CAP’s operating protocols.
The project also assisted in the regional tsunami preparedness project and supported St. John’s City Tsunami Evacuation Drill. The project now culminates with a variety of communication products aimed at sensitizing the public of the CAP’s authenticity and benefits.