PC program predicts fallout from terrorist strike
(The Sydney Morning Herald) THE Federal Government has developed a computer simulation that predicts the fallout from terrorist strikes and natural disasters, including the potential number of deaths and the impact on water and electricity supplies.
The $20 million program, to be unveiled today, will be accessible by businesses and government and can provide immediate updates on disruptions to critical infrastructure and the central business district. It can assess the human losses and economic damage caused by a range of disasters such as bombings, earthquakes, the contamination of water supplies or attacks on the power grid or communications services.
The Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, said the simulation had taken two years to develop and was based on confidential information provided by banks and communications, energy and water companies.
“Ultimately [this] will help build a more resilient business sector, which can bounce back in the face of adversity, ensuring less disruption to our way of life,” Mr Ruddock said.
The program was used in the lead-up to the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation meetings to provide information to security organisers about the impact of various attacks on 10 conference venues. Security authorities have also used the program to consider the impact of simultaneous bombings in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and the effect on gas supplies and ports from a tsunami hitting the North-West Shelf.
Mr Ruddock will today invite businesses and government agencies to apply to have scenarios tested by the program.
“These ‘virtual insights’ will feed into the decision-making processes of business and government and will contribute to more targeted and cost-effective policies,” he said.
The program, which is being developed by researchers at Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO, is yet to incorporate information on transport, health services and food supplies.
In the United States, where a similar program is under development, researchers have warned it could pose a security risk because it could be hacked by criminals or terrorists.
The Herald understands the program will be stored in a secure facility, which has been approved by ASIO. “Electronic penetration is not possible,” a project source said.
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