Researchers identify cities at risk for terrorism

Mar 04, 2008
Researchers identify cities at risk for terrorism
A color-coded map identifies American cities' level of risk to bioterrorism. Credit: Walter W. Piegorsch

A University of Arizona researcher has created a new system to dramatically show American cities their relative level of vulnerability to bioterrorism.

Walter W. Piegorsch, an expert on environmental risk, has placed 132 major cities – from Albany, N.Y., to Youngstown, Ohio – on a color-coded map that identifies their level of risk based on factors including critical industries, ports, railroads, population, natural environment and other factors.

Piegorsch is the director of a new UA graduate program in interdisciplinary statistics and a professor of mathematics in the College of Science, as well as a member of the UA’s BIO5 Institute.

The map marks high-risk areas as red (for example, Houston and, surprisingly, Boise, ID), midrange risk as yellow (San Francisco) and lower risk as green (Tucson). The map shows a wide swath of highest-risk urban areas running from New York down through the Southeast and into Texas. Boise is the only high-risk urban area that lies outside the swath.

The model employs what risk experts call a benchmark vulnerability metric, which shows risk managers each city’s level of risk for urban terrorism.

Piegorsch says terrorism vulnerability involves three dimensions of risk – social aspects, natural hazards and construction of the city and its infrastructure.

He concludes that the allocation of funds for preparedness and response to terrorism should take into account these factors of vulnerability.

“Our capacity to adequately prepare for and respond to these vulnerabilities varies widely across the country, especially in urban areas,” he wrote in an article about the research. Piegorsch argues that “any one-size-fits-all strategy” of resource allocation and training ignores the reality of the geographic differences identified in his study. Such failures, he says, would “limit urban areas’ abilities to prepare for and respond to terrorist events.”

The research, funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was published in a recent issue of Risk Analysis, a journal published by the Society for Risk Analysis.

Source: University of Arizona

Explore further: Domino's square pizza is value for money – with the right toppings

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

After a data breach, it's consumers left holding the bag

5 minutes ago

Shoppers have launched into the holiday buying season and retailers are looking forward to year-end sales that make up almost 20% of their annual receipts. But as you check out at a store or click "purchase" on your online shopping cart ...

Staying warm: The hot gas in clusters of galaxies

35 minutes ago

Most galaxies lie in clusters, groupings of a few to many thousands of galaxies. Our Milky Way galaxy itself is a member of the "Local Group," a band of about fifty galaxies whose other large member is the ...

Gold rush an ecological disaster for Peruvian Amazon

35 minutes ago

A lush expanse of Amazon rainforest known as the "Mother of God" is steadily being destroyed in Peru, with the jungle giving way to mercury-filled tailing ponds used to extract the gold hidden underground.

Recommended for you

James Watson's Nobel Prize to be auctioned

Nov 25, 2014

Missed the chance to bid on Francis Crick's Nobel Prize when it was auctioned off last year for $2.27 million? No worries, you'll have another chance to own a piece of science history on Dec. 4, when James D. Watson's 1962 ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Dologan
not rated yet Mar 04, 2008
I suppose the terrorists are thankful that the professor has done some preliminary target selection for them.
Also makes you wonder why Jack Bauer and CTU are Los Angeles based on 24 :P
zevkirsh
not rated yet Mar 04, 2008
worrying about more nonense.
Oderfla
not rated yet Mar 04, 2008
You have to think that this is reverse-psychology.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.