IMPACT Threat-assessment tools run the what-ifs you don't even want to think about.
The U.S. Coast Guard is developing a tool for use with three-dimensional design models to predict the impacts and consequences of terrorist attacks on its facilities.

In a growing pilot program, a threat-assessment module is being applied to object-based data models representing Coast Guard installations in Charleston, S.C., and Seattle, Wash. The models are created with ArchiCAD design software, from Graphisoft U.S. Inc., Newton, Mass.

The Coast Guard has been creating the models as part of a two-year project whose primary goal is to develop an integrated decision-making tool for facili-
ties management and operations. But the models also are suited for analysis with threat-modeling software. It is being used to predict hypothetical blast damage, gas dispersal and the effects of sniper attacks, radiological contamination, arson and other incidents.

It works by dropping scripted "threat objects" into the models, as if they were physical features, at chosen locations. The scripts run to simulate radiating pressure waves, drifting and dispersing gas clouds or other phenomenon. Casualties, as well as damage to systems such as computer networks whose loss could impair emergency response and continuing operations, can be studied as consequences spread from the point of origin.

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Threats are programmed as objects in the open-standard, parametric, Geometric Description Language. Impact calculations can be based on either simple rules-of-thumb, materials analysis, or more complex standards, says David Hammond, senior project manager with the Coast Guard’s Shore Facilities Capital Asset Management Division. He adds, however, that even more complex analysis may be run by exporting the files to more sophisticated software.

Blast impacts are grounded on references including the Army Engineers Handbook, NFPA 921 and federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms tables, says Ian Thompson, vice presi-dent of Huntingdon, Pa.-based Standing Stone Consulting, a security consultant with the SHiP Group, Baltimore. SHiP is a consortium of designers and consultants with a nine-month, $1-million contract to help plan and pilot implementation of the model-based, decision-making tool.

Eventually, the Coast Guard hopes to use the 3-D data model-based approach to help manage all of its facilities, valued at $7 billion.

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