Estimating Terrorism Risk

Estimating Terrorism Risk

Henry H. Willis
Andrew R. Morral
Terrence K. Kelly
Jamison Jo Medby
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 92
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  • Book Info
    Estimating Terrorism Risk
    Book Description:

    The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for protecting the United States from terrorism. It does so partly through the Urban Areas Security Initiative, though its distribution has been criticized for not reflecting risk. This monograph offers a practical definition of terrorism risk and a method for estimating it that addresses inherent uncertainties. It also demonstrates a framework for evaluating alternative risk estimates. Finally, it makes five recommendations for improving resource allocation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4093-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. The RAND Center for Terrorism Risk Management Policy
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Center for Terrorism Risk Management Advisory Board
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Figures
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. Tables
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  8. Summary
    (pp. xv-xxii)
  9. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  10. Glossary
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  11. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    The Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) is a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant program designed to enhance security and overall preparedness to prevent, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism. These goals are accomplished by providing financial assistance to address the unique planning, equipment, training, and exercise needs of large urban areas (DHS, 2004).

    In fiscal year 2004, UASI provided $675 million to 50 urban areas perceived to be at highest risk from terrorist attacks. These funds were allocated using a formula that accounted for several indicators of the terrorism risk to which each urban area might be...

  12. CHAPTER TWO Terrorism Risk and Its Components
    (pp. 5-12)

    Differing notions of terrorism risk frequently fuel disagreements about the relative risks to which different regions or cities are exposed. Some arguments implicitly link risk to terrorism threats. If, for example, one city were known through gathered intelligence or past history to be the preferred target for terrorists, this view would support a claim that this city has a high level of terrorism risk. Alternatively, others argue that risk is more closely associated with infrastructure vulnerabilities within a region because these represent logical targets for terrorism. Thus, for example, even if we do not know of a threat to a...

  13. CHAPTER THREE Accounting for Uncertainty and Values in Terrorism Risk Assessment
    (pp. 13-20)

    The definitions and measures presented in Chapter Two provide a simplified perspective on threat, vulnerability, consequences, and risk that is useful for thinking about homeland security and preparedness. The reality that threat, vulnerability, and consequences are all subject to tremendous uncertainties makes estimating each a challenging task. To facilitate risk estimation, it is important to understand the sources of these uncertainties that affect terrorism risk.

    There are two important sources of uncertainty in estimating terrorism risk. The first includes variability and error in estimates of threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences. For example, exact knowledge of the threat would require comprehensive intelligence...

  14. CHAPTER FOUR Two Approaches to Estimating Terrorism Risk in Urban Areas
    (pp. 21-36)

    Despite the many sources of uncertainty surrounding terrorism risk, estimating this risk is necessary for informed distribution of homeland security resources. This chapter describes two approaches for estimating terrorism risk: simple risk indicators and event-based models. Each approach reflects the components of terrorism risk (i.e., threat, vulnerability, and consequences) and their uncertainties in different ways. As examples of simple indicators, we describe how population and density-weighted population have been used as estimates of terrorism risk. As an example of event-based models, we describe the RMS Terrorism Risk Model. These two examples allow for comparisons that illustrate each approach’s strengths and...

  15. CHAPTER FIVE Evaluating the Performance of Different Estimates of Terrorism Risk
    (pp. 37-50)

    We have argued that uncertainties in the distribution of terrorism risk necessitate risk estimates that perform well across a range of assumptions about terrorist threat, vulnerability, and consequences. In this chapter, we describe a model for evaluating the performance of alternative risk estimates across a range of plausible terrorism futures. We use this model to compare the robustness to uncertainty of three estimates introduced earlier: the population, density-weighted population, and the proposed aggregated estimate as indicators of the share of terrorism risk for each of the UASI urban areas. The population, density-weighted population, and aggregated estimates each offer a different...

  16. CHAPTER SIX Conclusions and Recommendations
    (pp. 51-56)

    To improve the allocation of homeland security resources and thereby to reduce loss of life and property to terrorism or minimize poor investments in homeland security measures if attacks do not take place, it is essential to have good estimates of the terrorism risk to which different regions or groups are exposed. This objective has been difficult to achieve for many reasons, including confusion about the definition of risk and the absence of a systematic framework for selecting risk indicators. This monograph offers a definition of risk and discusses the relationships among threats, vulnerabilities, consequences, and risk. In addition, it...

  17. APPENDIX: Supporting Figures and Table
    (pp. 57-62)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 63-66)