Recently launched in Oregon, the Regional Alliances for Infrastructure and Network Security (RAINS) is a partnership of private industry and public agencies is an effort to accelerate development and deployment of innovation technology for homeland security.

With over 60 technology supporters and 300 participating organizations including universities and public safety agencies, RAINS-Net is linking 911 emergency response centers with local public safety stakeholders such as schools, hospitals and office buildings.

"RAINS is a response to national security mobilization by helping to accelerate the adoption of technology into the homeland security sector," says Charles Jennings, president and CEO of Swan Island Networks and a key backer of RAINS.

The 1.0 version of RAINS-Net disseminates emergency incident response alerts to cell phones and personal computers of participating organizations. For example, if police are dispatched to someone threatening with a gun in the neighborhood of a school, the school principal is notified that the incident is in progress. Or if a fire were reported within blocks of a subscribing building manager, that building manager would be notified that fire trucks have been dispatched.

The key technology innovation was to link the computer-aided dispatch system used within the 911 centers, a legacy system that is essentially not interoperable, into a XML and Web services format that can be easily integrated to the outside world.

Swan Island's Swarm product with roots in digital rights management is a component of RAINS-Net, as is data integrity and intrusion detection software functionality from Tripwire, network operations management from FORTiX and data translation from Centerlogic.

"Our mission is to create a Web services registry of products within RAINS-Net, that could be checked off in a menu fashion," by an organization that wanted to participate. Future work may extend RAINS-Net with secure email and stronger authentication. "We envision this as a growing menu of products and services that are pre-integrated, pre-priced and pre-packaged for local government," Jennings says.

The price for municipalities to participate in RAINS-Net is likely to be in the $500,000 to $2 million range, depending in the number of servers and how much information sharing is required. The backers of RAINS-Net are eying some $2.8 billion the Office of Domestic Preparedness has announced will be given out in grants to the states, with 80% likely to go to cities.