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An offer to share information when disaster strikes

Portland Resilience Network 2

Portlanders have a few things on their minds these days — a pandemic, the possibility of a future earthquake, domestic terrorism and wildfires are among the most worrying. When crises hit, communication is key — how do we make sure we stay connected when disaster strikes?

According to Swan Island Networks, information-sharing during a crisis (or several) isn’t nearly as sophisticated as it could be, and the team thinks it has a solution to help.

I sat down with Swan Island Networks CEO Pete O’Dell to learn more about his company’s work and the offer he is extending to organizations operating in the Portland region. His team is offering free access to the Portland Resilience Network (PRN) — a cloud-based platform created specifically to track imminent threats to safety in the Portland area.

“We want the Portland community to see just how powerful high-level information-sharing can be in protecting everything from people to property to business continuity,” said O’Dell.

Started more than 18 years ago in Portland, Swan Island Networks came on to the scene with a mission to bring situational awareness and open source intelligence to both public and private organizations. These include NGOs, city governments, fire departments, police stations, small businesses, large enterprises and others.

To foster situational awareness, Swan Island Networks offers a platform for intelligence analysis and curation. Security professionals receive real-time alerts when vetted sources provide updates.

The litmus test for the network started across the country in New York City. Swan Island Networks built a similar platform to Portland’s, the New York City Metropolitan Resilience Network, shortly after 9/11.

“There were so many stakeholders handling the fallout of 9/11 and we saw an opportunity to keep them all connected and in tight communication. In fact, we had about 400 NGOs and public and private organizations in participation,” said O’Dell. “The network proved so useful that the city ended up keeping it in place for a long time.”

However, the program ended up a victim of budget cuts. O’Dell believes this is indicative of a bigger problem throughout the country where security and information-sharing is rarely prioritized.

O’Dell wants to build interest in his home state in such work. “We have clients who were right in the fire evacuation zone or operating a business near the summer protests. This is now personal to us. It’s great to be involved,” said O’Dell.

Portland organizations looking to integrate with the Portland Resilience Network should contact Pete directly at pete.odell@swanisland.net.


This is part of a regular guest column written by the Technology Association of Oregon in the Portland Business Journal.

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