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News

Carnegie Mellon researchers unveil recommendations for nation's crisis readiness

Carnegie Mellon Universtity : 14 August, 2006  (Technical Article)
Carnegie Mellon University Professor Granger Morgan will lead the Conference on Crisis Readiness to discuss ways to improve how the nation can better protect essential systems against natural disasters and terrorist attacks. The conference is sponsored by Carnegie Mellon.
'Much as we might like to do it, preventing all attacks everywhere is just not possible,' said Morgan, head of Carnegie Mellon's Department of Engineering and Public Policy. 'What we can do is dramatically reduce our vulnerabilities, so that there is less damage when an event occurs and social services can be restored more rapidly. That is what this Carnegie Mellon Conference on Crisis Readiness is all about.'

Building on a broad swath of technical analysis, Carnegie Mellon researchers will outline how best to detect and limit the impacts of chemical, biological and radiological attacks; how to make the electrical power system more secure; how to improve communication among first responders who often can't talk to each other because of incompatible radio systems; and how to make sure the public knows what is going on and has a role in key decision making.

Carnegie Mellon was one of four research universities to receive $8 million from the MacArthur Foundation to increase the number of faculty positions and researchers working on projects at the intersection of science and security policy. Other universities that received funding were Cornell, Princeton and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Now, in the wake of more recent large-scale disasters like Hurricane Katrina, researchers will talk about the need to keep critical infrastructures protected and the implications of creating alternative communication about evacuation or sheltering in place for different attack scenarios. More than 100,000 Gulf state residents were left homeless in Katrina's aftermath and nearly 80 percent of the region's critical infrastructure was destroyed.

In addition to Morgan, other conference speakers include Mel Bernstein, director of university programs for the science and technology directorate of the Department of Homeland Security, and Norman P. Neureiter, former science technology adviser to the secretary of state.

Other Carnegie Mellon professors speaking at the conference include Jay Apt, executive director of Carnegie Mellon's Electricity Industry Center at the Tepper School of Business and the Engineering and Public Policy Department; Baruch Fischhoff, Howard Heinz University Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences and Engineering and Public Policy; Jon Peha, professor of engineering and public policy and associate director of the Center for Wireless and Broadband Networks; Jeanne VanBriesen, professor of civil and environmental engineering and co-director of the new WaterQUEST Center for studying water quality in urban environmental systems; Liz Casman and Keith Florig from the engineering and public policy research staff; and several current Ph.D. students and recent Ph.D. graduates, including Matt Dombroski, now at Lawrence Livermore National Labs; and Henry Willis, a RAND Corp. researcher in risk analysis and visiting lecturer at Carnegie Mellon.
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