The Regional Alliance for Information Networking

RAIN Network Public Internet Brocasting™

Camp Internet & the Rural Community Network 2000

a community & neighborhood level technology literacy & telemedicine deployment project using the Internet and GIS as the primary Project Visualization & Management tools. Studies in a 9 rural community matrix Technology Literacy and Telemedicine program still in process.





The RAIN Network was founded as a non-profit community Internet service in 1991 and is headquartered in Santa Barbara, California.  RAIN represents an example of a self-sustaining,  Public Internet Broadcasting Network serving a population base of approximately 1.4 million, reaching households, medical clinics, classrooms, libraries, non-profit agencies, government office and small businesses in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo County with regional (local) connectivity via the Network’s regional backbone.  Average monthly use of the RAIN web site is 2.5 million.


Through funding support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service RAIN has established a 9 rural community matrix as part of a distance learning and telemedicine program.


Each community in the program receives hardware, bandwidth connectivity and training for a medical clinic, public library and school.


Within the telemedicine program emphasis is on three areas of content development and deployment:  doctor-to-doctor training, doctor-community communication and community wellness.


The distance learning component is designed around Camp Internet. Awarded a Smithsonian Institution Technology Innovation Award in 1999, Camp Internet, now in it’s 7th year, represents a year round learning community. 


Each of the K-12 curriculum enhancement programs are being developed in conjunction with a multi-agency consortium of scientists and historians.  Use of GIS and the important role of researchers and scientists as “Trail-Guides” who work with students during the year, have made the Camp Internet internationally watched as a model for local application.



Camp Internet provides a consistent,  supportive learning community that focuses clusters of classrooms on highly motivating themes of Exploration.  The thematic tracts weave together technology, science, social studies, history, reading skills and math.


These clusters of classrooms are similar too and often part of the clusters of families that make up the “Neighborhoods” which are the heart of our Rural Communities Network program.


We have also begun the use of a highly innovative “Internet Bus” which holds 6 computers (Pc / Mac mix), a large screen in the  back for group lessons and a lending library of books and cd-roms.  The RAIN Rural Community Network Internet Bus visits small rural communities weekly giving residents a way to go online via the bus’s satellite Internet link.  Residents establish accounts they use each week and return for regular Technology Literacy training sessions held on the bus.


Community Technology Advisory Councils (CTAC’s) have been established in each of the 9 rural communities.  CTAC’s are composed of a minimum of one local teacher, doctor, banker, community volunteer, small business (chamber of commerce) representative and one staff person from the appropriate County Supervisors office.


The CTAC’s represent a collective group of over 90 committed individuals involved in the structure and application of Internet technology in their community.


Each of the 9 rural communities have a Youth Technology Corps (YTCs).  The YTC’s  are an organic part of the local CTAC.  Composed primarily of High School students and some Community College students, the YTC’s provide trainers, web designers and mentors for younger students working with online projects.


Most importantly, the Youth Technology Corps represent a means to effectively integrate young people as part of each communities larger CTAC.


Consider the implication of a coordinated global effort that involved this “community” level of input.  It is our hope that the framework and methodologies being established by RAIN Network will be of value to many communities.


To help in the understanding and study of the project each of the 9 communities in our Rural Community Matrix are being built into our main GIS database.  Through the use of GIS as our primary Project Management tool we’ve seen a new level of  local understanding and, at the same time,  provided a dynamic, live way for community residents to give input and see that input show up in the GIS community map.


Over the next few years  the Asian and European communities will embrace the Internet as a core technology for economic, education and cultural growth.  It is important that we seek frameworks and model applications which will permit  the effective and useful introduction of the  many new technologies represented by the Internet.  In areas such as Community Wellness and K-12 education it is essential that we establish models which work.


The “Community Technology” model being presented through the RAIN Rural Community Network project is based on “neighborhood” level development.  One of the primary components of all the community projects RAIN Network has been responsible for has been the use of “Neighborhood Technology Master Families”.  Modeled on an older American practice of having “Master Gardner’s” in small communities who taught other people how to garden, the Neighborhood Technology Master Family” has proven to establish an essential and effective neighborhood “level buy” in to the introduction of a new technology literacy or telemedicine programs.


In work we have conducted in urban settings, working with local Housing Authority agencies, the Neighborhood Technology Master Families have  been the sole factor that has allowed families in the Projects to give us entry and then to actually take part in the technology literacy training.  If a good friend who is the Neighbor has committed for an entire year to be a Master Tech Family, then  it must have some value.


To engage the young people, especially high school and slightly older, we established Youth Technology Corps groups to work with the Neighborhood Families.  The Youth became the teachers, giving classes at the Neighborhood Master Tech Family home once a week or coming online daily to help as a mentor or tutor with other kids in their neighborhood.  The Youth Tech Corps also became our most important source of translators as we worked to make each of the web sites for the communities bi-lingual.


Community Technology Advisory Councils have been a logical outgrowth of the Neighborhood Master Technology Family program.  As several neighbors get together and they all have good ideas on how to apply this new Internet technology to their community then they need a way to communicate their ideas as a group.  So, we established the Community Technology Advisory Councils as a primary component in a series of distance learning and telemedicine projects RAIN is conducting through USDA Rural Utilities Service funding.


From the earliest days of our work with  “Community Networks” (around 1985) we have been challenged by the need to establish an effective, working methodology for linking the “multi-agency” phenomena which is a Community Network.  Getting business, government, schools, churches, libraries, service organizations and media to coordinate their Information through a regional Public Internet Broadcasting system has proven to be as challenging as any scientific multi-agency data exchange project we have worked on.


Use of GIS and advanced database systems has been one key to successful multi-agency “Community” level content development and distribution.  Easily studied in our Telemedicine projects, where the development of ‘local content’ for health, wellness and education,  we see ways in which a rural community or an urban Neighborhood, can establish communication and get information to and  out from essential local resources such as medical clinics, libraries, schools, local government centers and local business councils.


We see the following as the effective new tools we have begun to apply in our Community Network activities over the past two years:


1)     Community Technology Advisory Council’s (CTAC’s)

2)     Youth Technology Corps (YTC’s)

3)     Neighborhood Technology Master Families

4)     Integration of GIS as both a visualization & a community input tool

5)     RAIN’s “Internet Bus” providing a mobile unit to get connectivity to neighborhoods currently seriously underserver – either because of rurality or because of urban problems.

6)     Integration of telemedicine programs to create both Doctor-to-Community and Community Wellness Programs

7)     Integration of resources from  broad spectrum of agencies and corporations (in the past year RAIN has integrated work with the US Department of Education, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, USDA Rural Utilities Service, National Parks, State Parks, the Univeristy of California and many others).  Development of Multi-Agency data-exchange standards which integrate the “community” in a serious way are essential as the Internet expands in influence and availability.


‘Technology that Works for People’ -  World Wide – that is what the RAIN Network is all about.



The following is a brief review of RAIN’s current education, telemedicine and e-commerce programs.


                                                RAIN NETWORK PROFILE 2000




RAIN Regional Alliance for Information Networking


Public Internet Broadcasting - Technology that Works for People


Organization Profile  2000-2002


   RAIN is a non-profit 501c3 educational program of Visible Light, Inc., an educational communications corporation based in Santa Barbara, California. Founded in 1991 RAIN was one of the first public Internet access programs in the world. In keeping with its pioneer spirit and vision, RAIN is now forging Public Internet Broadcasting.  Over 32 million visitors come to the RAIN web site each year, a testament of the need for, and value of, Public Internet Broadcasting.


   Since 1993, RAIN has worked on Federally and State funded projects for the USDA, US Dept. of Education/California Education Dept., Dept. of Commerce/NOAA, National Science Foundation, and Defense Department in the fields of Distance Learning, Telemedicine, Electronic Commerce, and Family Strengthening. Current growths include adding GIS community development services.


   In recent months RAIN’s Camp Internet program won a Smithsonian Innovation Network Medal of Honor, and became an AOL Rural Community Capacity Builder.


   RAIN’s Public Internet Broadcasting service is an excellent distance learning medium suitable for formal and informal education, health education, and economic development project support. Using state-of-the-art video and audio streaming, RAIN's programs link learners in the United States and around the world to expert scientists, historians, doctors, educators, business owners, and entrepreneurs who serve as online mentors and role models for learners of all ages.


   The PIB programs broadcast by RAIN are designed to provide in-depth content and a live human component that leverages online technology to take viewers to locations they would otherwise not have access to - into the board room of a leading technology developer, to conferences with ground breaking medical practitioners, inside a museum collection vault to see rare artifacts, undersea to swim with exotic fish, off to remote islands where time stands still, even into prehistoric painted cave sites. These remote broadcasts - some live others prerecorded - will open new communication and learning opportunities for RAIN's viewers, and demonstrate optimal applications for the National Information Infrastructure, global Internet, and World Wide Web technologies.


Projects currently in development / delivery are :


1)     RAIN has been awarded three USDA Rural Utilities Service Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants that will be introducing new online multi-media educational and health environments into nine specific rural communities in three California coastal counties, and then using those programs as models for other rural and urban sites. The program features the Camp Internet online learning expedition program delivered via the Internet to classrooms, libraries and family rooms, and a public / practitioner Community Wellness Telemedicine component. Sites are in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties, and each is building a Community Technology Council and Youth Tech Corp to create a long-term sustainability.


2) RAIN has been awarded support to develop and deliver the Camp Internet distance education program to 96 classrooms as a Technology Literacy Project funded through US and Calif. Dept. of Education funding, with additional classroom scholarships funded by the Federal Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. This is a large 4 year project that features GIS and remote / wireless components to facilitate educational broadcasting. Programs featured are       " Explore the California Channel Islands and Backcountry “, and “Explore the Ancient Southwest, Ancient Mediterranean and Egypt” are being developed in conjunction with a multi-agency consortium of scientists and historians.


3) RAIN's Director, Timothy Tyndall, is an invited presenter of research papers and poster sessions to the National Academy of Science, Dec 97 in Washington DC for the National Research Council CODATA , at the International Telecommunications Society Conference in Stockholm, June 98, at the International Internet Society Conference in Geneva, July 98, at the Dept. of Interior 5th Annual California Islands Symposium, Santa Barbara, May 99, for the California Dept. of Education, San Diego, Jan 99, at the National Rural Telecommunications Conference Aspen,Oct 97 and Oct 99, at the Canadian Library Assoc. Get Smart Conference, Montreal, Mar 99,  at the National Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education Web Net,Oct 99, at the International Telecommunications Society in Florence, Italy, March 2000 and at the International Internet Society Kyoto, Japan, July 2000


Past Accomplishments


1) RAIN assists developing countries in creating model public access programs - the existing project is in Belize - it is BRAIN - the Belizean Regional Alliance for Information Networking. RAIN has applied to USAID for one in Ghana that will be GRAIN, with an emphasis on electronic commerce for women's and regional products to promote self sufficiency. RAIN has received support from the National Science Foundation for work in developing countries, and presented a paper to Universidad Estatal a Distancia in San Jose, Costa Rica in 1993.


2)     RAIN has been selected as a regional education and technology development agency for the opening of a new Electronic Commerce Resource Center (ECRC) following a competitive briefing at the Pentagon. The Center will assist regional small and medium sized manufactures and disadvantaged small businesses in Southern California to participate in government contracting using Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to streamline, lower the cost, and increase the efficiency of contracting with the government. The program is sponsored by the Defense Logistics Agency.


3) RAIN was a technology partner in a USDA CYFAR Children Youth and Families at Risk project called Neighborhood GreenNet in Santa Barbara, teaching low income youth and families to use the Internet as a family strengthening and small business development tool.




   In its own host region of Santa Barbara, California, RAIN operates from a headquarters in the downtown cultural district of Santa Barbara. The Center offers regular training programs and free walk-in access to the public. RAIN has expanded its local dial access services to reach more individuals and families interested in participating in the new distance learning and telemedicine programs. A new 56k / v.90 digital dial up system is in place, aDSL has been added, and all new y2K compliant equipment upgrades were accomplished in the fall of 1999. The major focus of the Network 2000-2002 is delivering training and connectivity to underserved rural and at-risk urban populations, to classrooms and libraries, and to telemedicine sites.


To learn more about RAIN and its Public Internet Broadcasting programs, please see, or call 1-800-889-2823.


We invite you to support Public Internet Broadcasting -

 Technology that Works for People !


1129 State A6, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, 1-800-889-2823,