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DM-OPEN Frequently Asked Questions

What is DM OPEN Interoperability?

OPEN provides a set of interoperability interfaces for sharing of alerts, situation reports, and common operational picture snapshots. These interfaces are designed to enable information sharing between diverse systems, both commercial and government, as long as they agree to follow the interface structures and rules of operation. In general, these interfaces conform to open messaging standards as defined through the Emergency Management Technical Committee sponsored by the OASIS standards organization. There is no charge for the use of the interfaces. They are Federal Government infrastructure provided by the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Disaster Management Program. The particular interface set will grow and evolve over time as standards are developed and agreed to by industry representatives on the Technical Committee.

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What is, and where can I get, the documented standard interfaces to OPEN so I can make my commercial package interoperable with systems that use OPEN?

Interoperability interface information on the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), Emergency Data Exchange Language Distribution Element (EDXL-DE), HazCollect Non-Weather Emergency Message (NWEM), Collaborative Operating Group (COG) administration, and Tactical Information Exchange (TIE) is found in the API documentation. The TIE interface is a legacy interface and is operational but not supported or maintained. The EDXL-DE interface is full production and fully standards compliant, but does not yet employ all capabilities inherent in the EDXL-DE standard for intelligent distribution. The remaining interfaces are full capability production interfaces. WSDL links for the interfaces (other than TIE) are as follows:

Once registered, there is a technical POC to help with programming issues and a help desk if there are system problems identified. There is help desk support, but only if the system appears to be down (i.e., you did not make changes and now your previously working code does not work) the help desk number is (888) 333-9473. If you do call the help desk, be sure to tell them that your problem is with "inderopdev" or "interop" depending on the endpoint you are trying to reach.

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What is the process to get approved as being interoperable?

Users of OPEN must establish membership in a Disaster Management Interoperability Services (DMIS) Collaborative Operations Group (COG). There is no requirement to use DMIS client software.

You can register as a system wanting to build to the interoperability interface without using the client software.

Instead of asking for a software download, identify the registration in the text as requesting to be a "member of the interoperability COG." This will get a commercial or government system the appropriate passwords, etc. to build, test, and demonstrate interoperability capabilities. Once a working system has been achieved, the CUSTOMER (government or responder agency that uses the software) registers as a responder COG, which gives that customer (through his newly purchased commercial system or GOTS installation) interoperability access to all other DMIS responder COG's (including access to The National Weather Service's HazCollect Non-weather Emergency Message (MWEM) interface, if authorized) under normal DMI-Services protocols.

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What is CAP?

CAP is a simple, flexible, open, non-proprietary, XML data exchange format for collecting and distributing "all-hazard" safety notifications and emergency alerts.

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Where can I find the official CAP specification?

The OASIS Emergency Management Technical Committee is in charge of formalizing and gaining industry approval for Emergency Management XML Standards. All formally approved standards for the committee are available on their Web site.

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What Is EDXL Distribution?

Emergency Data Exchange Language Distribution Element is a complex XML element specification used for the purpose of content categorization, to include geographic area of interest, of message content separated from that message content. It is used for distribution by message brokers and retrieval by message receiver clients to ensure that emergency messages received are desired and appropriate in a multi-location multi-vendor architecture. It further allows distribution agents and message brokers to manage a single system-to-system interface to accommodate potentially thousands of different content specifications. A CAP message, for example could be one of these content specifications.

Under EDXL, it would not need a separate distribution interface, although ultimate consumers would need a CAP-friendly user interface. The same would apply to the new Resource message formats now being worked through the Technical Committee.

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Where can I find the official EDXL Distribution specification?

The official specification has been approved as a formal OASIS standard as of 1 May 2006. View the official EDXL Distribution specification.

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Are Other Standards under development?

Hospital Availability Exchange (HAVE) and EDXL Resource Messaging were approved by OASIS members in October 2008. Specific implementation dates for these brand new content standards have not been formally determined, but implementation effort for these standards is expected to in early 2009.

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Once a customer has sponsored an operational COG, how do I help them administer user ids, passwords , etc.?

There are three approaches to the administration of COG user id's:

  • The DMIS toolset offers one solution. Have a single designated COG administrator download one copy and use the COG admin tab only to administer user ids.
  • If the user admin task is small and requires only a rare add/delete of operator ids used for system connections , an OPEN technical contact can do that, working with either the commercial system programmers, or with the customer technical contact responsible for configuring a COTS installation.
  • A third option is to use the OPEN interoperability interface for COG administration. This can be used by a COTS system to update OPEN interop IDs in a way that makes the connection to the Disaster Management Program invisible to the user. The COTS system would have to write the GUI and connection code. (This is a different WSDL than is used for CAP, but has been tested and is full operational.) This is an option for "single source" integrators that need to provide user id flexibility within their proprietary code.

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What commercial and government systems are currently interoperable?

That depends on the degree of interoperability you are looking for. There are more than 100 systems registered as members of the interoperability COG. Somewhere between 15 and 20 are regularly involved in interoperability demonstrations, through the OASIS EM-TC, through the Emergency Interoperability Consortium, or on their own.

The USGS (government), Blue 292, NC4 (E-team), and Defense group (CoBRA), MyStateUSA, and Warning Systems have operational CAP interfaces in production. Several others have demonstrated the capability of production connectivity. These include Federal Signal Corporation, CapWIN, WebEOC(Esi), Innovative Emergency Management, mobile Foundations, Proxicom, and System Documentation, Inc. There are several others that may also be in that category.

In addition there is a new push for interoperability with military systems as well. DMIS, approximately 8 different military systems, and three commercial systems successfully demonstrated CAP based interoperability in last summer's Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (CWID).

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How can I find out what other vendors are willing to cooperate if my systems implement interoperability features?

Commercial vendors may also want to check out the Emergency Interoperability Consortium (EIC). This is a group of leading industry members who are working together to make emergency management software and systems work together using open standards for cross system information exchange. Additionally, information is available through the DM OPEN Special Interest Group. This active group is intended to introduce user developers to each other, better define user needs, and help otherwise plan for more effective use of the OPEN infrastructure.

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