First U.S. Automated Alert Net Goes Live

RAINS-Net a model for possible national system, creators say

After 16 months of development and testing, a public/private security partnership based in Oregon has activated what's being described as the nation's first fully automated, Web-based regional security alert system.

Known as RAINS-Net and developed by the Regional Alliances for Infrastructure and Network Security, a partnership of 60 IT vendors and more than 300 public and private organizations, the system will provide automated alerts from the Portland 911 center to schools, hospitals, corporate building managers and others.

The network, which started as a pilot project in March, has applications for any national system that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) might try to create. Charles Jennings, chairman of the RAINS alliance, and others have already briefed the DHS on the network and obtained federal assistance in setting up and designing RAINS-Net to be capable of supporting future homeland security requirements.

There are currently two RAINS chapters, in Oregon and Washington state. However, RAINS executives are in discussions with three other states about expanding the network and alliance membership, Jennings said.

Jennings said other states could replicate the RAINS approach for much less than the $5 million initial development price—a bargain, he said, given the payoff. RAINS-Net in Oregon is the result of a $60,000 state grant, thousands of hours of volunteer software development work and technologies donated by big IT companies that are based in Oregon or have a major presence there, including Intel Corp., Fortix Inc., Tripwire Inc., Swan Island Networks Inc. and Centerlogic Inc.

"Our nation's security experts have acknowledged the need for a better way to communicate sensitive information and to coordinate emergency response, [which is] especially critical in post-9/11 America," said Susan Zevin, acting director of the Information Technology Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Washington. "The RAINS-Net approach can serve as a model that could be adopted by cities throughout the nation."

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RAINS-Net System

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