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Civil-Comp Proceedings
ISSN 1759-3433
CCP: 78
Edited by: B.H.V. Topping
Paper 17

The Balance of Public Policy and Engineering in Counter-Terrorism

R. Watkins+, J.W. Duane*, T.I. Stewart*, F.C. Hadipriono* and J.I. Watkins*

+Normandale, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
*Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Geodetic Science, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA

Full Bibliographic Reference for this paper
R. Watkins, J.W. Duane, T.I. Stewart, F.C. Hadipriono, J.I. Watkins, "The Balance of Public Policy and Engineering in Counter-Terrorism", in B.H.V. Topping, (Editor), "Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on the Application of Artificial Intelligence to Civil and Structural Engineering", Civil-Comp Press, Stirlingshire, UK, Paper 17, 2003. doi:10.4203/ccp.78.17
Keywords: public policy, expert opinion, counter-terrorism, engineering, construction, design.

In this paper, the authors step away from the details of technology and address the larger question of the how leaders in both engineering and public policy can work together to deter Premeditated Destructive Events (PDEs) and mitigate the consequences to a nation's infrastructure. Politically motivated PDEs have been the concern of all nations. Public policy is concerned with building, maintaining and protecting the infrastructure of nations. This paper focuses on the complementary roles of public policy and engineering as they pertain to the constructed facilities and systems that make up the infrastructure.

Eight strategies for defense of the infrastructure against politically motivated PDEs are presented. The strategy options work co-operatively and individually to safeguard constructed facilities and systems from PDEs. The strategy of deterrence reduces the perceived target value, increases the perceived risk to PDE perpetrators, and increases the perceived difficulty of a successful attack. Prediction of an attack relies on effective intelligence and warning. Active and passive security systems help prevent attacks. Sensors capable of identifying intrusive agents detect attacks. Access control, and increased reliability of systems protect the infra-structure from attack and mitigate damage. Recovering from consequences of an attack is managed through design of robust, reliable systems and effective emergency response. Attribution of the source of the attack is achieved through intelligence gathering. In response both the symptoms and the cause are considered.

The complementary roles of engineering and public policy are defined. The authors conclude that to achieve a more holistic, integrated approach to the events and solutions in respect of planned destructive events, it is essential to draw together the expertise, experience and skills of diverse professional and other interests.

The authors address how civil engineers and architects, in partnership with others can shape public policy. This partnership can identify and protect critical facilities with the intent of surviving what may possibly become an era of terrorism in such a way that our fundamental values are preserved.

The authors describe how one group of engineers, architects and planners, can work hand in glove with the policy makers and evaluators, to produce optimal outcomes. The authors take the view that the answer to this question will come as a direct result of rigorously assessing, combining and integrating what might appear to be fundamentally different methods, rather than adopting ad hoc or haphazard approaches. The authors employ experienced expert opinion to explore the following international policy issues related to the counter-terrorism cycle.

How can governments plan effective foreign and domestic policies that act to ensure that the conditions that engender and nurture terrorism are minimised or mitigated? What are the limitations of government policy? Even in an ideal world where there are benign foreign and domestic policies that actively ensure the well being of the populace, there will still be those who commit planned or random acts of terror. How can governments address these issues in a way that does not result in a generalised response to all adherents of such political or other beliefs? How can technology and policy be used to address varying levels of terrorist sophistication? To what extent can particular communities or physical infrastructures either be protected from attack, or sustain such attacks with minimal loss and disruption without draconian provisions?

In fact, the very problems now facing many nations may only be able to be dealt with by adopting more holistic and less fragmentary methods. The best engineers, architects and other professionals responsible for the design, construction, maintenance and protection of critical public infra-structure can do, is to ensure that as far as is possible, and within a clear context of cost-benefit analyses and the public good, that such facilities operate efficiently and that the consequences of random or pre-mediated acts of terror are minimised.

This may mean having in place effective back up systems to which load might be switched in the event of damage to the primary facility or hardening certain critical sites such as electricity sub-stations so that access is minimised. The professional's desire for solutions within particular fields embraces the following: the large public and/or private cost of building critical facilities which are designed to be as impregnable as possible to PDEs, but which might still be damaged by highly planned and executed strikes; and the willingness of the public at large to have their access to major civil infra-structure locations either denied or largely curtailed. Emerging policy responses which are themselves influenced by factors such as cost, accessibility and appearance, balanced against prudent judgements about the likelihood of such attacks, the extent to which damage might occur and its consequences for the public locally, regionally or nationally.

It is important to bear in mind that engineers, architects and other professionals, together with public policy practitioners and analysts, may well be working in very different circumstances when it comes to dealing with PDEs than with events deriving from natural catastrophes. Furthermore, to achieve a more holistic, integrated approach to the events and solutions in respect of PDEs, it is essential to draw together the expertise, experience and skills of diverse professional and other interests.

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