Risk Analysis

Probabilistic Risk Analysis and Terrorism Risk

Journal Article

  • Author(s): Barry Charles Ezell, Steven P. Bennett, Detlof Von Winterfeldt, John Sokolowski, Andrew J. Collins
  • Article first published online: 12 Apr 2010
  • DOI: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2010.01401.x
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Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent establishment of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), considerable efforts have been made to estimate the risks of terrorism and the cost effectiveness of security policies to reduce these risks. DHS, industry, and the academic risk analysis communities have all invested heavily in the development of tools and approaches that can assist decisionmakers in effectively allocating limited resources across the vast array of potential investments that could mitigate risks from terrorism and other threats to the homeland. Decisionmakers demand models, analyses, and decision support that are useful for this task and based on the state of the art. Since terrorism risk analysis is new, no single method is likely to meet this challenge. In this article we explore a number of existing and potential approaches for terrorism risk analysis, focusing particularly on recent discussions regarding the applicability of probabilistic and decision analytic approaches to bioterrorism risks and the Bioterrorism Risk Assessment methodology used by the DHS and criticized by the National Academies and others.

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