Benchmark Analysis for Quantifying Urban Vulnerability to Terrorist Incidents


*Address correspondence to Walter W. Piegorsch, BIO5 Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA; tel: 520-621-2357; fax: 520-626-4824;


We describe a quantitative methodology to characterize the vulnerability of U.S. urban centers to terrorist attack, using a place-based vulnerability index and a database of terrorist incidents and related human casualties. Via generalized linear statistical models, we study the relationships between vulnerability and terrorist events, and find that our place-based vulnerability metric significantly describes both terrorist incidence and occurrence of human casualties from terrorist events in these urban centers. We also introduce benchmark analytic technologies from applications in toxicological risk assessment to this social risk/vulnerability paradigm, and use these to distinguish levels of high and low urban vulnerability to terrorism. It is seen that the benchmark approach translates quite flexibly from its biological roots to this social scientific archetype.