Oregon public-private partnership aims for a regional emergency network

Oregon public-private partnership aims for a regional emergency network

An Oregon business development organization wants to field a prototype for a regional emergency response network.

The Oregon Trial of Emergency and Security Technologies (O-TEST) is the first project of the Oregon Regional Alliance for Information and Network Security (Oregon RAINS). The architecture and functionality of the network has not been determined, but promoters want it to be a model for statewide and regional networks linking local, state and federal resources.

'We are building a trial platform to try out these technologies and find out which works best,' said Charlie Kawasaki, president and CEO of Rulespace Inc. of Portland, an Oregon RAINS member.

Oregon RAINS is a consortium of government, private and educational organizations formed to seek and exploit opportunities for the state's IT industry in the homeland security market. It unveiled plans for O-TEST at a Washington briefing yesterday.

As initially envisioned, users of the system would include law enforcement, emergency response and regulatory agencies, public and private utilities, and private companies and news organizations. A secure network for sensitive information could allow communication by e-mail, instant messaging or voice and video over IP. Users also would have access to databases of training and reference material, and information could be disseminated to groups according to job profile, security clearance or location.

The focus is on using Oregon technology, but the system will not be exclusively homegrown, said Ryan W. McMahon, vice president of product management for Swan Island Networks Inc. of Portland, which has developed a prototype database.

O-TEST is a five-year program that will start by integrating existing technology and later develop new technology, Kawasaki said. He said several vendors are competing to provide a testbed network for the system, and all six campuses of the Oregon University System will participate.

Oregon RAINS is seeking $6.5 million from grants, in-kind donations and sponsorships to fund the initial phases of O-TEST.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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