Livermore researchers apply combat simulation technology to homeland security

December 10, 2002

LIVERMORE, Calif. -- Using a computer code originally developed for combat simulation, researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are supplying the same expertise that analyzes concepts of operation, technology and training to emergency responders as a part of the Lab's role in homeland security.

The Analytical Conflict and Tactical Simulation (ACATS) is an offshoot of the Joint Conflict and Tactical Simulation (JCATS) that the military uses for training, analysis, mission planning and mission rehearsal. JCATS also has been used to support actual military operations in places such as Panama and the Persian Gulf.

ACATS applies JCATS' cutting-edge simulation capabilities to the scenarios that may take place in an urban setting, from the spread of a chemical or biological agent within a building to the search for survivors in the rubble of a bombed building. "This is a useful tool for first responders," said Bob Greenwalt, deputy director of the Lab's JCATS project. "It's a natural result of the application that the military has been using for years."

Emergency managers in Lee County, Alabama, tried out the system earlier this year during a scenario that involved a hypothetical terrorist attack on a water treatment plant. And Seattle first responders tested the system during an earthquake simulation.

The goal is to make ACATS available to local and state agencies to help them be better prepared for terrorist attacks, natural disasters and large-scale accidents.

Livermore has already established a new lab next to the existing JCATS laboratory where scientists are fine-tuning the ACATS system to better model city- and state-level events such as public health response and the effects of panicked citizens.

Greenwalt said that ACATS eventually would be able to take in real-time data from sensors and tracking devices attached to first responders, which would allow it to be used as incident control software in addition to emergency response planning and training. ACATS is one of many tools being developed for homeland security. The homeland security mission of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is to support the Department of Homeland Security, and its government and private partners, in reducing the nation's vulnerability to terrorism, preventing terrorist attacks within the United States, and responding to and recovering from any attacks that do occur.

The Laboratory's extensive scientific and technical expertise will be utilized to provide solutions that integrate advanced technologies into operational realities. The Laboratory provides field-demonstrated prototypes, comprehensive threat, vulnerability and tradeoff analyses, and operational capabilities to defend against catastrophic terrorism, including nuclear, chemical, biological, cyber attacks and other threats that can cause mass destruction or disruption.
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Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory, with a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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