2008-01-02 / Local News

UB staff to discuss terrorism, disaster protection

How prepared is New York for another terrorist attack or major disaster? That's the question a group of researchers and disaster response experts will discuss at a two-day conference addressing ways to protect New York City and New York State.

"The biggest threats to New York City today are terrorism, pandemic flu and coastal surge from an off-shore hurricane," said conference organizer Ernest Sternberg, president of Protect New York and professor of urban and regional planning in the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning.

"The conference will highlight advances in protection and response for these scenarios and other potential disasters in New York City and throughout the state," he added, who studies decision making during a crisis.

To be held Jan. 10-11 at the Levin Institute of the State University of New York in Manhattan, the conference is organized by Protect New York and sponsored by the New York State Office of Homeland Security and Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research, From Earthquake Engineering to Extreme Events, headquartered at UB.

The conference will promote the application of science and rigorous reasoning in public policy, journalism and business, according to Sternberg, who founded Protect New York in 2006 to foster research and teaching on ways to safeguard New York State from disaster.

Conference information is available at www.protectnewyork. org.

More than 50 researchers, many from State University of New York and private New York State colleges and universities, will present their research. Experts and representatives from the FBI, Office of Homeland Security, Association of Fire Chiefs and the state Department of Transportation, among others, also will participate.

UB has identified "mitigation and response to extreme events" as a focus of its UB 2020 strategic plan for academic excellence.

Conference sessions will address a wide range of security and disaster-response topics: transportation security in New York City, border security, behavioral screening at security checkpoints, securing the state's critical infrastructure, radiation emergencies, disaster-response ethics, hospital and emergency-medicine capacity during a disaster, security technologies, emergency logistics and training for all-hazard events.

Mark Frank, UB associate professor of communication, will lead a session on behavioral approaches to security at airports and other checkpoints. John Kostanoski, president-elect of Protect New York and professor and chair of security systems at Farmingdale State College, will lead a session on new security technologies used to protect people and infrastructure.

Michel Bruneau, UB professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering and MCEER director, will lead a session on securing critical state infrastructures. Bruneau was part of a team of UB and MCEER engineers who investigated damage to buildings nearby Ground Zero in the days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Daniel Hess, UB assistant professor of urban planning, will lead a session on transportation security in New York. Hess investigated New Orleans' evacuation plans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Among the panelists will be Natalie Simpson, UB associate professor of operations management and strategy, and Philip Hancock, UB visiting assistant professor of operations management and strategy, who will discuss the managerial challenges of emergency response.

Steven Dubovsky, UB professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry, will lead a session on the emotional and behavioral dimensions of disaster response. An expert on post-traumatic stress disorder, Dubovsky studied the effects of Columbine, Colo., high school shootings on student survivors.

Founded at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in 2006, Protect New York is dedicated to helping New York State and New York City meet the challenge of protecting from terrorism and disaster.

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