STAR’s experience in this area has led to improved development and virtual testing of new
- CBR and weather observing systems;
- Weather and transport-dispersion (T&D) modeling systems
- Information-fusion systems
- Response strategies
STAR and NCAR jointly developed this software framework, called the Virtual Threat-Response Emulation and Analysis Testbed (VTHREAT), which emulates the entire process involved in detecting, characterizing, and responding to a CBR attack, in real urban and non-urban settings and for real meteorological situations.
The ability of this system to be used easily and repeatedly for testing different protection scenarios is important because optimal strategies for attack detection, modeling, and response are likely to be very situation dependent. That is, the strategy will depend on the meteorological conditions that typically prevail in a particular area; the physical characteristics of a city such as size, shape, transportation infrastructure, and building morphology; the local orography; the population distribution; and the emergency-response infrastructure.
For each situation tested, the risk of the CBR threat to personnel and infrastructure can be assessed The alternative to the use of such a threat-risk emulation system is live field exercises, that are very expensive and often impossible to conduct in populated areas. STAR has recently used this system for meeting the needs of DTRA projects.
Plume Threat Reduction
A core STAR technology is the measurement and prediction of plumes of hazardous material in the atmosphere. A variety of models is used across a range of space scales, for both forensic analysis and real-time operations. For historical, forensic analysis, very-high-resolution research-grade models can be used to assess plume properties and the exposure of personnel and materiel. For real-time operations, the DoD SCIPUFF/HPAC plume model, soon to be transitioned to the JEM system, has been used for some applications. For urban-scale needs, building-aware models are needed. Here, plume models embedded within computational fluid-dynamics models are used, and when the need involves a large urban area and real-time solutions, the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s algorithmic QUIC-Plume system is employed.
It is essential that information about past and future locations of plumes of hazardous material be made available in an easily interpretable visual format. This will enable a common situational awareness by emergency managers and responders, and facilitate effective evacuation and decontamination efforts. To accomplish this goal, meteorological and plume information need to be translated into simple, quickly understandable maps of safe zones and contaminated zones, with adequate geo-referencing. STAR has developed such client-specific visualization technologies for use by managers in the field using laptops, by first responders with hand-held devices, and by commanders in emergency operations centers with advanced 3D display capabilities.