Applications of Risk Analysis in Border Security

Principal Investigator: 
Performance Period: 
October 2007 to September 2008
Commercialization Status: 
I have been working on the border security case study in the past 3 years, focusing primarily on maritime and container security. This year, I expanded my research on several border security problems that were identified in previous years using traditional decision and risk analysis tools as well as stochastic games. The models developed this year covered different aspects of container security paradigm, extending from security of incoming trucks from Mexico to optimal resource allocation to reduce the risk of terrorism using overseas cargo. My goal has been to evaluate different alternatives comparatively to improve security at various nodes of container movement and provide insights into how we could do better with limited resources.   The first work has been on security of incoming trucks from Mexico. This study was largely developed in the previous calendar year. However, it was submitted to publication in Decision Analysis in this calendar year, and received positive response from referees. After major revisions, the study was finally accepted in this journal and will appear in this journal by December 2008. The main focus of this study is comparative evaluation of transportation security and inspection equipment to reduce the risk of radiological material transfer through southwestern borders. A risk analysis tool developed for this paper was also submitted to Risk Analysis Workbench for use by policy analysts.   Going in parallel with the trucks study was cost-benefit analysis of Advanced Spectroscopic Portals that DNDO is planning to deploy to ports of entry. There have been major criticisms against this program and DNDO contacted CREATE Director Prof. Detlof von Winterfeldt to conduct an independent study. We developed a decision tree model to understand how risk profile at U.S. ports behaves as a function critical parameters that largely impact the security situation at U.S. ports.  The study is complete and will be submitted for publication in Risk Analysis after DHS review.   In addition to research using traditional risk and decision analysis tools, we also developed a stochastic game model in collaboration with Dr. Erim Kardes to understand how we should allocate resources in response to terrorist behavior. The main advantage of stochastic games is incorporation of terrorist behavior into the model while maintaining the practical validity of traditional risk analysis tools. This study also points out to the importance of early defense. This study has already been submitted to Naval Research Logistics and a response from the journal editor and reviewers was still pending as of September 30, 2008.   In addition to research accomplishments, I was involved in two high profile projects in this calendar year. The first project is on resource allocation to improve security at Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. (POLA/LB). The goal is to develop a tactical tool that could help POLA/LB security directors make resource allocation decisions to counter daily terrorism threats. Mapping of the baseline risk profile of each terminal and pier is already complete. This is a multi-year project and in coordination with the other researchers in this study, I plan to finish the resource allocation prototype in the coming calendar year.   The second project is conducted in coordination with the LAX homeland security department and in collaboration with Technion Institute in Israel. The goal is to evaluate a new technology developed at Technion to improve plastic explosive detection capabilities at nation’s airports. I have developed the decision tree model that we will use after feeding in the required information that will be collected from subject matter experts and experiments. The next stage in this project is the experiments to understand the practical validity of the tool. As of September 30, 2008, an experiment protocol was still in writing.   My research on container security has been using information from various reports on the security situation at various nodes of the supply chain and the ports themselves. Rather than evaluating a single security alternative, I focused on comparative evaluation of security alternatives. This line of research is expected to motivate more researchers in this domain to shift their focus on these problems and explore cost effectiveness of alternative defenses. The academic products of these studies have been received well in the community and are expected to get published in high quality journals.