The National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) was established in 2004 as the first university-based Center of Excellence (COE) funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Office of University Programs (OUP). CREATE is headquartered at the University of Southern California (USC) where it is jointly housed in the Viterbi School of Engineering and the Sol Price School of Public Policy. It has research affiliates at several other institutions, both in the U.S. and abroad. The Center contributes university-based research to make the United States more secure by taking a longer-term view of scientific innovations and breakthroughs and by developing the future intellectual leaders in homeland security. CREATE has also been very successful in transitioning and disseminating the results of its research to operational units of DHS and other stakeholders.
CREATE’s mission is to improve our Nation’s security through research and development of advanced models and tools to evaluate risks, costs, and consequences of terrorism and natural and man-made hazards, and to guide economically viable investments in homeland security. We are accomplishing our mission through an integrated program of research, education, and outreach that is designed to inform and support decisions faced by public and private sector decision-makers at the national, state, and local levels. We are also working to leverage the investments being made by the Department of Homeland Security and to facilitate the transition of research toward practical tools to improve security.
Interdisciplinary Research Approach
CREATE employs an interdisciplinary research approach, combining the talents of economists, decision scientists, systems analysts, and engineers. Research at CREATE is divided into four theme areas: Risk and Decision Analysis, Behavioral Analysis, Economic Assessment, and Risk Management. Over the years, the Center has engaged many partners, including several Minority Serving Institutions, in carrying out its programs. This approach encourages creative discovery by employing the intellectual power of the American university and industrial systems to jointly solve some of the Nation’s most pressing problems. The Center also treats the subject of homeland security with the urgency that it deserves, with a key goal to leverage fundamental research with existing domain experts so that research results are disseminated and implemented rapidly.
Focused on DHS Mission and Customers
By the nature of its research in risk, economics, risk management, and operations research, CREATE serves the need of many agencies at DHS, including the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Coast Guard. In addition, CREATE has developed relationships with clients in the Office of National Protection and Programs (now the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency), the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, the National Biosurveillance Integration Center, and many state and local government agencies. CREATE faculty and students take both the long-term view of how to reduce terrorism risk through fundamental research, and the near-term view of improving the cost-effectiveness of counter-terrorism policies and investments through applied research.
Research Excellence and Funding Support
CREATE has excelled in the quality and quantity of its research. It is considered the leader in its various sub-fields, and its researchers have received numerous awards and recognitions of their contributions. The Center has done pioneering work on decision analysis, expert elicitation, economic consequence analysis, resilience, benefit-cost analysis, economic modeling, and operations research. In addition to funding from DHS, CREATE researchers have been supported by the National Science Foundation, World Bank, United Nations, federal government agencies outside of DHS, numerous state and local government agencies, and private industry. In addition, CREATE researchers have received funding support from other DHS Centers of Excellence, such as the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute (CIRI) at the University of Illinois and the Center for Accelerating Operational Efficiency (CAOE) at Arizona State University.
Research Transition and Applied Technology
CREATE has been very successful in transitioning the results of its research and case studies into practical tools for the user communities. Dozens of research products have been developed. More than 20 have been transitioned for specific use by DHS components, most visibly led by the ARMOR-IRIS-GUARDS-PROTECT systems for randomization of patrols and other security resources, PortSec risk management software for port environments, Dirichlet Elicitation Tool (DET) for expert probability elicitation, Cumulative Regional Integrated Operability Score (CRIOS) tool, MANPADS software, and Grad E-CAT economic consequence analysis tool. CREATE has developed a research transition pipeline that incorporates two separate and parallel paths: the technical research transition path and the business development/user marketing path. An additional essential component of a successful transition is the immersion of CREATE’s faculty, post-docs, and graduate students in actual user environments to promote a mutual understanding and appreciation for each other’s knowledge and contributions toward solving pressing homeland security problems. Read more.
CREATE strongly embraces the responsibility for training homeland security professionals. Its education program sponsors and mentors post-docs, graduate students, and undergraduates, supports specialized degree and certificate programs, and conducts executive education for professionals. CREATE has instituted tools that engage students in the timely completion of high-quality and synergistic projects, as well as the rapid transition of research to homeland security practitioners. Students, post-docs, and junior faculty have successfully advanced their careers during their experience at CREATE, while also contributing to the Center’s various objectives and to our Nation's security. Read more.
Outreach and Dissemination
CREATE’s outreach aims to increase awareness about the Center, its mission, and its results among stakeholders, including federal, state, and local government agencies, industry, congressional interests, and the general public. This exposure enables the Center to better connect with key collaborators and partners who recognize the value of the research and its applications. Many of these interactions have evolved into collaborative projects that are jointly supported by DHS and CREATE.
Center Leadership, Management, and Team
USC, as the Center’s lead institution, coordinates the CREATE consortium, currently consisting of faculty research fellows at numerous other institutions, such as the University of Wisconsin, Ohio State University, and University of Maryland. The overall team is exceptional in both talent and diversity, including women, African Americans, Hispanics, and Americans with disabilities.
The Center is headed by Dr. Detlof von Winterfeldt, who previously served as CREATE’s founding co-Director before taking a leave of absence to head the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). Professor von Winterfeldt is a leading decision-scientist. He is supported by a research director, associate directors for research transition and external relations, a business manager, and an office manager. The team at CREATE are further assisted by theme-area specialists at USC and partner institutions, who advise the Director on research priorities and progress. Read more.