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Mapping the Risks

Mapping the Risks: Assessing the Homeland Security Implications of Publicly Available Geospatial Information

Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 236
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  • Book Info
    Mapping the Risks
    Book Description:

    Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, many agencies within the federal government began restricting some of their publicly available geospatial data and information from such sources as the World Wide Web. As time passes, however, decisionmakers have begun to ask whether and how such information specifically helps potential attackers, including terrorists, to select U.S. homeland sites and prepare for better attacks. The research detailed in this book aims to assist decisionmakers tasked with the responsibility of choosing which geospatial information to make available and which to restrict.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-3622-3
    Subjects: Political Science, Transportation Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Sponsor Guidance
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. The RAND Corporation Quality Assurance Process
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  6. Figures
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. Tables
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  8. Summary
    (pp. xvii-xxxiv)
  9. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxxv-xxxvi)
  10. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxxvii-xl)
  11. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. homeland, federal government agencies have withdrawn some data and information that was publicly available before the attacks. These restrictions have included removing geospatial information from Web sites and federal depository libraries. Such steps reflect a substantially heightened concern that some types of publicly available geospatial information could make key U.S. facilities and locations more susceptible to attacks by terrorists or military adversaries. However, identifying which types of information might be exploited is challenging for two reasons. First, diverse types of geospatial data and information are publicly accessible from a wide...

  12. CHAPTER TWO What Are the Attackers’ Key Information Needs?
    (pp. 17-40)

    Assessing the potential benefits of strategies for safeguarding geospatial information requires an understanding of how a potential enemy could use the protected data. However, it is not enough merely to assess whether these data could be used for malevolent purposes, since this determination neglects whether there are alternative sources to access comparable information and substantially fulfill the attacker’s needs as well as the possible benefits of such information.¹ To assess an attacker’s information requirements, it is necessary to understand an attacker’s objectives, possible targets, modes of attack, and how effective such an attack might be. Only with this information is...

  13. CHAPTER THREE What Publicly Available Geospatial Information Is Significant to Potential Attackers’ Needs?
    (pp. 41-92)

    In the preceding chapter, we focused on information “demand,” or what information potential attackers might need to carry out an attack on U.S. critical infrastructure or other key locations.¹ In this chapter, we turn to the supply side to assess which types of geospatial information are publicly available and significant to fulfilling the information needs of adversaries planning an attack. Our analysis focused on two key questions: (1) What federal geospatial information is publicly available? and (2) How significant is it? For our purposes, we defined “significant” based on whether the information is bothusefulandunique. Our methodology consisted...

  14. CHAPTER FOUR An Analytical Framework for Assessing the Homeland Security Implications of Publicly Accessible Geospatial Information
    (pp. 93-120)

    Our assessments of the demand and supply aspects of the problem highlight the fact that decisionmakers need to weigh disparate factors in assessing the potential homeland security sensitivity of publicly available geospatial information. Thus, decisions on whether and how to restrict public access to this information will significantly benefit from using an analytical process that is explicit and consistently applied among geospatial information distributors.

    Such a framework for analysis could help decisionmakers in weighing an interrelated set of relevant criteria concerning the usefulness, availability, and societal benefits and costs of public access to geospatial information. However, using an analytical process...

  15. CHAPTER FIVE Key Findings and Recommendations
    (pp. 121-130)

    An integral element of homeland security is minimizing the opportunities for adversaries to acquire essential information for undertaking attacks on critical U.S. sites. Publicly available geospatial data and information are a potentially valuable type of information that attackers could exploit to help identify critical U.S. facilities and then carry out their attack plans. Thus, denying adversaries access to any type of “sensitive” geospatial information is important to enhancing U.S. homeland security. Placing access restrictions on this kind of data and information, however, should be based on a reasonable expectation of improving U.S. homeland security given that such restrictions are likely...

  16. APPENDIX A Federal Agencies Examined
    (pp. 131-134)
  17. APPENDIX B Federal Geospatial Data Sources Identified
    (pp. 135-170)
  18. APPENDIX C Detailed Examples of Geospatial Information Analyses
    (pp. 171-178)
  19. APPENDIX D Overview of Critical U.S. Sites: Critical Infrastructure and Other Key Homeland Locations
    (pp. 179-190)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 191-195)