DHS Tool Helps Plan for and Counter Bomb Attacks
HExCAT intended for suite of counter-measurement models.
The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate’s Chemical Security Analysis Center (CSAC) is developing a modeling tool that estimates the hazard and related human health consequences from thousands of plausible threat scenarios.
The tool is called the Homeland Explosive Consequence and Threat (HExCAT), and it helps public officials to plan for attacks at special events, such as parades, elections, sporting events and inaugurations. After validation and further development, it will be integrated into national- and regional-level risk analysis.
“HExCAT is a holistic risk assessment that informs decision makers like governors and mayors how to invest in security, plan for operations and mitigation, and make important decisions for securing public spaces,” says David Reed, a chemist who works with CSAC’s Chemical Threat Characterization Team. “If a terrorist were to detonate a bomb in a building versus a bomb during a marathon versus a car bomb near a stadium, what physical security and medical countermeasures will be most effective?”
HExCAT is a standalone tool, but it is planned to be part of a suite of models called the Countermeasure Assessment and Planning Tool (CAPT WEB). These models, covering chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear hazards, help federal agencies analyze threats, vulnerabilities and consequences of potential attacks to prioritize resources for the most effective defense and response. S&T collaborated with the Department of Defense, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, among others, on the development of HExCAT.
HExCAT maintains a library of 25 different types of military and homemade explosives including combinations of fuels and oxidizers, which increase the effect of the explosion. The tool can also model different scenarios based on a variety of indoor and outdoor public spaces. For general areas, such as city centers or parade routes, HExCAT can simulate city layouts and buildings to model potential damage to representative buildings and determine medical response according to local capabilities.
For more information about HExCAT, see: https://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/news/2020/07/23/feature-article-preparing-state-and-local-leaders-explosive-attack.