University of Southern California
CREATE - is developing computer models to analyze the risks, consequences, emergency response, and economics of terrorism. Our models are used to evaluate a wide range of threats to optimize our investments in counter-terrorism.




Each event leads to a unique set of consequences, which depend on the nature of the threat and when and where it occurs. Our initial focus will be on three critical events: (1) an explosive attack that is capable of damaging a structure, (2) a cyber-attack, and (3) an attack that disrupts commercial air traffic. In the future CREATE will evaluate a broader range of threats, as requested by DHS.


  • Explosions (Masri, Caffrey)

    Due to the stochastic nature of terrorist threats and their resulting actions, analysis tools must be embedded in an overall simulation package to quantify probabilistic estimates of the effects of explosions on structures, and the trade-offs involving hardening, remediation, response and recovery strategies. A GIS-based software package will be produced that efficiently and rapidly evaluates an arbitrary collection of buildings and structures under scenario terrorist threats and evaluation of the costs and benefits of alternative response strategies. The package will allow databases to be imported into the GIS module so that a wide range of threats can be easily evaluated. Such databases may contain detailed technical specifications concerning the nature of the potential target, its location, dimensions, material properties, subassemblies, various subsystems that constitute the main system (e.g., communication, electric, water, gas, fire suppression, etc.). Furthermore, the susceptibility of the subsystems to each type and level of threat will be in the form of a sub-component probabilistic "Fragility Curve" that expresses the relationship between the severity of an extreme load and the probability of malfunction (damage level) of the component. The package will enable users to create fault trees that reflect the interdependence of the target system components and sub-systems on each other. The software package will support a formal probabilistic risk analysis to compute the likelihood of the prime structure sustaining damage and or disruption under a stochastic event.


  • Simulation of Commercial Aircraft Threats (Yao) CREATE will construct a simulation-based decision support tool that enables airspace security personnel to rapidly respond to terrorist or other aviation emergencies on a regional or nation-wide basis. By aviation emergencies we mean anything that unexpectedly perturbs the civilian passenger and cargo aviation system, including physical attacks on aircraft, threats of attacks, strong suspicions of imminent attacks; attacks or threats to airports; apprehension of suspected terrorists "near" aviation resources; and so on. All of these cases require action of some sort-rescheduling flights, forcing planes to land, closing airports or parts of airports, removing and rechecking luggage. The heart of the system will be a high-performance discrete event model simulator capable of tracking the real and simulated behavior of all aircraft en route at any given time within the continental United States. We plan to use ONESAF, a state-of-the-art High Level Architecture (HLA) compliant simulator developed by SAIC for the US Army. The simulator state is initialized by tapping aviation information directly from a major airport (e.g., LAX) to plot the position, heading and destination of all in-service commercial aircraft. When an emergency is introduced into the model scenario, the simulator will enable aircraft to exhibit independent behavior that reflects responses appropriate to the emergency. In early versions of the system, sets of rules will determine how each aircraft should react. As the system grows in complexity we will switch to a constraint-based approach in which decisions of where to route aircraft will be optimized based on a global cost-benefit (utility) model.
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