A growing network of public-safety responders in Oregon are using a new Web-based technology to respond to emergencies. Called RAINS, for Regional Alliances for Infrastructure and Network Security, this public-private coalition takes a bottom-up approach to emergency-response communications – quite different from the more centralized federal system, reports the Christian Science Monitor. So far, RAINS links 250 users in nine Oregon counties, ranging from the Portland mayor’s office to hotel managers and private security firms to law enforcement. The system aggregates incident alerts from 911 call centers, law enforcement, transportation agencies, and others, and reformats each event as a digital alert. These alerts are then sent to users via the Web, cellphones, and pagers.
Supporters say RAINS helps crucial, time-sensitive reports flow more efficiently, though still securely, to different public-safety agencies, which potentially produces quicker and more effective responses. A number of communities across the United States are considering using the network’s technology platform as well. Some see it as a post-9/11 evolution on how to share information. Yet despite praise from homeland security experts, RAINS still encounters institutional resistance because of the reluctance to share information and hook up the technology. For example, the Portland police department has not linked to the system.