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A group of technology companies and government agencies this week will unveil an open specification for securely sharing sensitive information across heterogeneous networks in times of crisis.

The framework already has been implemented in some locations and could eventually be rolled out internationally, giving participants a trustworthy channel for exchanging data with peers, according to project officials.

Developed by Regional Alliances for Infrastructure and Network Security, or RAINS, OSIS (Open Specification for Information Sharing) relies on Web services for the exchange of information. RAINS will operate a UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration) registry for participants and plans to accredit each system before it is brought into the program.

OSIS is an outgrowth of RAINS’ Connect and Protect project, which has linked schools, government agencies and other organizations. RAINS comprises mostly technology companies, universities, critical infrastructure providers and public agencies. The framework is designed to work in heterogeneous environments and can be deployed on existing systems, RAINS officials said. The group rejected the idea of basing the plan on a single vendor’s products, deciding that requiring participants to buy specific hardware or software would defeat the purpose of the program.

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