[sbe-eas] National FIPS Code

Sean Donelan sean at donelan.com
Sun Nov 27 21:49:57 EST 2011

On Sun, 27 Nov 2011, Adrienne Abbott wrote:

> The problem is that no one recognizes the "National" FIPS code, including

> the National Weather Service, the largest "consumer" of FIPS codes, as well

> as FEMA, the FCC and some manufacturers of EAS equipment...Entering multiple

> versions of something that doesn't officially exist won't make things any

> better.

The National Weather Service proposed adding the convention for
the National FIPS code in 1997. Just like the "entire state of" codes
don't technically exist in FIPS, NWS suggested adding "000000" as a
"convention" in NWR/SAME and EAS. FEMA and the FCC also proposed using
adding the convention "000000" for a national code. If you read the
comments on the FCC dockets, its was not the government objecting.

There will probably be similar problems discovered with CAP after it is
deployed. Will CAP also end up being "frozen," because of objections to
changing anything after the equipment is deployed?

> The search for a "National" code notwithstanding, when it comes to

> identifying a disaster location, FIPS codes are an outmoded, outdated, old

> technology. FIPS codes identify counties and they don't do you much good

> here in the West where some counties are bigger than entire eastern states.

> Years ago manufacturers and programmers of emergency management equipment

> started using postal zip codes as a way to identify disaster locations. And

> now as a result of better mapping technology, the tool of choice is the more

> flexible "polygon".

While polygons work may well for western states with mostly straight-line
borders, there will probably be still be a need for conventions how to
code state-wide (especially eastern states with irregular borders) or a
national alert (the United States, territories, dependencies, etc is a
very complicated, very long, disjoint set of polygons).

The goal isn't to be GIS experts, but understanding what conventions
emergency managers should use to maximize interoperability with various
alerting channels.

> The point is, we need to move EAS completely out of the Cold War mentality.

> CAP gives us a way to do that as long as we don't keep it anchored to old

> technology.

As long as we don't get stuck with CAP 1.x for 20 years. All emegency
partners need to recognize that things will change. They will need to
update their systems when things change.

FIPS 6-4 doesn't even exist anymore. How many EAS encoders/decoders are
updated with the most up to date state/country codes?

If OASIS releases later revisions of CAP, will they be required changes?

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