Dec. 10, 2002

New Tool Developed by Lawrence Livermore Team Aids Agencies in Preventing, Mitigating Terrorist Attacks

A new analysis tool has been developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers to assist government agencies in preventing and mitigating terrorist attacks.

Known as the Homeland Operations Planning System, or HOPS, the web-based information system can model buildings, stadiums, convention centers and landmarks that might be terrorist targets.

"We saw the vulnerability of the U.S. infrastructure and we thought we could use this tool to try to prevent attacks or minimize their impact," said Tony Farmer, a deputy leader in the Lab’s Proliferation Detection and Defense Systems program.

Developed with funding from the Department of Defense, the HOPS technology can be used to assist federal, state and local agencies in several important ways.

HOPS helps government agencies in conducting an inventory of high-value infrastructure, such as key buildings, bridges and convention halls; in developing vulnerability assessments and in preparing emergency response plans.

With HOPS, security planners can examine overviews of a facility, such as its location, proximity to hospitals, location of transportation systems and other considerations. Interior views of facilities can provide information on the functioning of the building itself, such as exits and entrances or how power and water are provided. HOPS contains an information inventory of more than 1,000 toxic substances. Details are provided on how the substances affect people, treatment methods and clean-up.

During the past two years, HOPS has been used to assist the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in planning for the Democratic National Convention, to support the California National Guard for security during this year’s World Series and for a California National Guard exercise in the Bay Area in September.

At the request of the California National Guard, the HOPS team has incorporated ways to optimize the Guard’s techniques and procedures for responding to any terrorist attacks, Farmer said.

With HOPS and modeling technology from the Laboratory’s National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center, assessments of chemical, biological or radiological attacks can be rapidly obtained on laptop computers by federal, state and local officials. The assessments, requested from anywhere nationwide about any location in the U.S., can be displayed in less than ten minutes on computer-generated maps.

"While the primary purpose of HOPS is to assist agencies in preventing and mitigating terrorist attacks, the system can be extended to all types of hazards, including earthquakes, floods and fires," Farmer said.

Among the agencies that could find use for HOPS are fire departments, state and local law enforcement, the FBI and Offices of Emergency Services.

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory, with a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

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