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WMD scenarios to come to the Web

SAIC's job is to alter doomsday simulation tools to run under Web-based standards.
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Written by Richard Koman on

How will federal agencies, private businesses, hospitals, police and fire departments react if another terrorist attack hits the US, if a foreign country drops a nuclear bomb, or if toxic chemicals are released in the New York subway system?

 

Such doomsday planning is the bailiwick of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which creates computer models of various scenarios. Now the agency wants to put their models and simulation tools online to help local first responders and government agencies. To that end, DTRA awarded Science Applications International Corp. a $53.9 million contract to put online the Integrated Weapons of Mass Destruction Toolset, The Washington Post reports.

Making the tools adhere to Web-based standards is a key part of the contract, said Michael Chagnon, a senior vice president with SAIC. "So anybody that has a Web browser, a laptop, connectivity and permission would be able to access these tools to do their job. And those types of users would include war fighters or could include civil first responders as well."

The sophisticated models use physics to simulate how winds and terrain could affect the dispersal of particles from a nuclear bomb or chemical release.

"First responders could use that information to determine exactly what type of medical response would be required and the number of people that might be affected," Chagnon said. "So it's being able to publish data that could be of use to others, as well as being able to subscribe to data -- such as weather data updates -- that would enable the toolset to make more up-to-date calculations as well."

The tools currently run on a suite of classified and unclassified servers. Under the contract, SAIC will make necessary changes to enable the tools to run on standard web browsers.

"That interoperation with other systems and the ability to share information with other systems is the key to enhancing the value and the utility of the tool suite," Chagnon said.

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