US cities face high risk from bio-terrorism attacks

March 6th, 2008 - 2:08 pm ICT by admin  

New York, Mar 6 (IANS) A US researcher has created a colour-coded map that dramatically illustrates how American cities are vulnerable to bio-terrorism. As many as 132 major cities have been marked out on a colour-coded map that identifies their level of risk based on factors including critical industries, ports, railroads, population, natural environment and other factors.

The map, created by environmental risk assessor Walter W. Piegorsch of the University of Arizona, shows a wide swathe of highest-risk urban areas running from New York down through the Southeast and into Texas.

The map marks high-risk areas as red (for example, Houston in Texas and, surprisingly, a small town called Boise in Idaho), midrange risk as yellow (San Francisco, California) and lower risk as green (Tucson in Arizona).

Boise is the only high-risk urban area that lies outside the swathe.

The model employs what risk experts call the ‘benchmark vulnerability metric’, which shows risk managers each city’s level of risk for urban terrorism.

Piegorsch says terrorism vulnerability involves three dimensions of risk - social aspects, natural hazards and construction of the city and its infrastructure.

He concludes that the allocation of funds for preparedness and response to terrorism should take these factors of vulnerability into account.

“Our capacity to adequately prepare for and respond to these vulnerabilities varies widely across the country, especially in urban areas,” he wrote in an article in the journal Risk Analysis.

He said that “any one-size-fits-all strategy” of resource allocation and training ignores the reality of the geographic differences identified in his study. Such failures, he added, would “limit urban areas’ abilities to prepare for and respond to terrorist events”.

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