Researchers Study Vulnerabilities at Ground Zero
A communitys critical infrastructurescommunications, transportation, water, electric power systemsare a challenge to run smoothly even on the best days.
In the wake of Sept. 11, Rensselaer researchers are studying how interdependent these systems are and how systems operators handled the disruptions. The goal of the study is to provide computer tools to aid in planning for and responding to future potential disasters.
Critical infrastructure interdependencies arise when two or more infrastructures must act together to provide a service. An example is the need for both electric power and communications infrastructures in the provision of mass transportation service. If either power or communications is disrupted, the provision of subway service would be at a standstill.
William Al Wallace 61, professor of decision sciences and engineering systems (DSES), received one of eight grants from the National Science Foundation to collect data on structural engineering and damage assessment while debris is being removed from the terrorist attack sites in New York. Wallaces $70,000 grant was the second largest of the eight awarded.
The data we are collecting should give us a fairly clear picture of how the systems vulnerabilities were interpreted, managed, and repaired by emergency response personnel from the impacted organizations. It is imperative that we use the knowledge gleaned from this horrific tragedy to help prepare for potential disasters of this nature around the globe, Wallace says.
Wallace is working with Joe Chow, professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering; David Mendonça 01, Wallaces former graduate student who is now an assistant professor of information systems at New Jersey Institute of Technology; and DSES doctoral student Earl Rusty Lee.