The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's largest program at ORNL is one not widely known: the Protective Security Analysis Capability (PSAC). Vivian Baylor, the program's director, says that DHS envisions PSAC as a round-the-clock resource that integrates information, analyses, and vulnerability assessments to identify risk-based priorities for preventive and response measures. This collection of tools and tactical information will be used to support the Risk Management Division in DHS's newly formed Preparedness Directorate.
"At PSAC we concentrate on integrating capabilities from other supporting assets, such as the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center at Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory. Our goal is a single team that provides a robust, all-hazards, preparedness capability," Baylor says. Much of the work in fiscal-year 2006 will be focused on system hardware, software support and development, and data integration.
The heart of PSAC is the National Asset Database, a compendium of important information about the nation's critical assets that would be useful to officials planning protective actions in response to emergencies, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters.
The database's information for the Hoover Dam, for example, would include the dam's satellite-based, geospatial position, construction documents, vulnerability assessment results, protective actions taken, and routes of access to the dam. An ORNL Computational Sciences and Engineering Division team has been developing the hardware and software necessary to support the database's implementation. Another PSAC task involves maintaining ORNL's LandScan Dataset files. A few days before hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma pounded the southern U.S. coast, LandScan was used to help the Department of Energy estimate the numbers and locations of populations that would be without electrical power after the storms. ORNL staff also utilized LandScan to assist DOE in predicting where gasoline shortages would arise in Texas after one million people evacuated the Houston area to escape Hurricane Rita. In December 2004, LandScan was called upon by the United Nations to predict where the survivors fleeing the tsunami would relocate. The information was used to help the World Bank determine where to send emergency food supplies.
LandScan is currently being updated to provide information on the day and night population distribution for hundreds of America's most populous cities and counties. Building the database's foundation one block at a time, ORNL's next step is to incorporate information on transient populations, including people on business travel and vacation.
Web site provided by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Communications and External Relations