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Countering Bioterrorism: The Role of Science and Technology
a broad array of potential approaches to reducing the threat of terrorism. Diplomacy, international relations, military actions, intelligence gathering, and other instruments of national policy well beyond the scope of this study all have critical roles to play.
Our society is too complex and interconnected to defend against all possible threats. As some threats are diminished others may arise; terrorists may change their goals and tactics. While this report describes what in the committee’s best judgment are the top-priority actions and research objectives for harnessing science and technology to meet today’s threats, its most important conclusion is that the nation needs a well-organized and disciplined ability to respond as circum-
BOX ES.1 Fourteen of the Most Important Technical Initiatives
Immediate Applications of Existing Technologies
Develop and utilize robust systems for protection, control, and accounting of nuclear weapons and special nuclear materials at their sources.
Ensure production and distribution of known treatments and preventatives for pathogens.
Design, test, and install coherent, layered security systems for all transportation modes, particularly shipping containers and vehicles that contain large quantities of toxic or flammable materials.
Protect energy distribution services by improving security for supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems and providing physical protection for key elements of the electric-power grid.
Reduce the vulnerability and improve the effectiveness of air filtration in ventilation systems.
Deploy known technologies and standards for allowing emergency responders to reliably communicate with each other.
Ensure that trusted spokespersons will be able to inform the public promptly and with technical authority whenever the technical aspects of an emergency are dominant in the public’s concerns.
Urgent Research Opportunities
Develop effective treatments and preventatives for known pathogens for which current responses are unavailable and for potential emerging pathogens.
Develop, test, and implement an intelligent, adaptive electric-power grid.
Advance the practical utility of data fusion and data mining for intelligence analysis, and enhance information security against cyberattacks.
Develop new and better technologies (e.g., protective gear, sensors, communications) for emergency responders.
Advance engineering design technologies and fire-rating standards for blast- and fire-resistant buildings.
Develop sensor and surveillance systems (for a wide range of targets) that create useful information for emergency officials and decision makers.
Develop new methods and standards for filtering air against both chemicals and pathogens as well as better methods and standards for decontamination.