RAINS showcases secure info

Oregon RAINS

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Officials from the Oregon Regional Alliance for Infrastructure and Network Security (RAINS) say the group is making big strides in its campaign to become a major player in the nation's homeland security agenda.

Its secure communications initiative, called RAINS-NET, will be a central feature of the Defense Department's anti-terrorism Homeland Security Command and Control Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration scheduled for May.

The joint business, academic and government entity has also begun recruiting states as licensee "chapters" of the RAINS technology. Virginia has already signed an agreement, and the inaugural meeting of the Washington RAINS chapter is set for May 14 in Seattle.

The "perfect number" of licensees would be about 10 states, said Charles Jennings, chairman of RAINS chairman and chief executive officer of Swan Island Networks Inc., an Oregon technology company.

Collaboration among RAINS chapters would show how states could work together to pass information securely among one another, he said. It also could show the advantages of such information sharing.

"The focus many people have had when they've talked about information sharing is how much they would have to give away," Jennings said. "The surprise is that it's actually much more about the information that they get back, and there's a need for people to realize that."

A pilot project version of Oregon RAINS was launched in early March and now has about 25 nodes at various public and private organizations. It uses networking and security technologies from several Oregon companies, but is designed to grow in sophistication and services based on feedback and evaluation loops built into the system.

Jennings said the first production version of RAINS-NET should be up and running in two to four months, as the workflow of the Portland 911 system is integrated into RAINS-NET. It could be the first such statewide system in the country that will be able to send emergency alerts securely online, he said.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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