Challenges Facing Consequence Analysis

The fundamental challenge for analyzing the consequences of a terrorist event is how to measure the intangible and secondary effects. DHS’s consequence analyses tend to limit themselves to deaths, physical damage, first-order economic effects, and in some cases, injuries and illness. Other effects, such as interdependencies, business interruptions, and social and psychological ramifications, are not always modeled, yet for terrorism events these could have more impact than those consequences that are currently included. This is discussed in Chapter 4. Even though DHS is not responsible for managing all these aspects of risk—for example, the Department of Health and Human Services has the primary responsibility for managing public health risks—it is appropriate and necessary to consider the full spectrum of consequences when performing risk analyses.

BOX 3-2

Synopsis of Challenges for Risk Analysis in DHS

  • Availability and reliability of data

  • Modeling the decision making and behaviors of intelligent adversaries

  • Appropriately characterizing and communicating uncertainty in models, data inputs, and results

  • Methodological issues around implementing risk as a function of threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences

  • Modeling cascading risks across infrastructures and sectors

  • Incorporating broader social consequences

  • Dealing with different perceptions and behaviors about terrorism versus natural hazards

  • Providing analyses of value to multiple, distributed decision makers

  • Varying levels of access to necessary information for analysis and decision making

  • Developing risk analysis communication strategies for various stakeholders

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