numbers of people gather, could be both casualty-rich and newsworthy. Unique facilities such as high-profile universities and national research centers are another set of distinctive potential targets.

Emergency operations centers (EOCs) have become a critical part of the operating infrastructure of major cities. They provide the essential responses for cities and their people during floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters; during major fires and other domestic disturbances; and now, during terrorist attacks. Thus cities face two challenges associated with their EOCs: the need to upgrade them so that they are prepared to handle terrorist attacks and the need to protect EOC facilities and staff, as they could be targets of terrorists seeking to enhance the impact of other attacks.

The loss of any of these potential targets would, by itself, be serious, but multiple losses, the result of simultaneous attacks on different types of targets, could be devastating. For example, the fires in buildings caused by an attack could not be extinguished if, in a coordinated attack, the relevant water-supply pumping stations were put out of service. The close interdependence of such targets greatly increases cities’ vulnerabilities (Dean, 2002).

The elements of cities that must be addressed in order to deter and, if need be, respond to terrorist attacks include the following, each of which is addressed in a subsequent section of this chapter:

  • Emergency management and emergency operations centers,

  • Water supply and wastewater systems,

  • Electrical supply interruption,

  • Urban information technology and communications,

  • Urban transportation and distribution systems,

  • Major and monumental buildings,

  • Stadiums and other places for large public gatherings, and

  • Underground facilities, including tunnels.



Major cities and many large counties have emergency response plans providing for local EOCs and their personnel to respond to crises such as a natural disaster. Responding to terrorist attacks is a relatively new dimension for EOCs. As such, there is a significant and immediate need for appropriate response guidelines, threat-scenario definitions and training procedures, special or improved equipment, and federal funding to support EOCs across the country in achieving an adequate level of preparedness (U.S. Conference of Mayors, December 2001).

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