Society For Risk Analysis Annual Meeting 2012

Advancing Analysis

Session Schedule & Abstracts

* Disclaimer: All presentations represent the views of the authors, and not the organizations that support their research. Please apply the standard disclaimer that any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations in abstracts, posters, and presentations at the meeting are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other organization or agency. Meeting attendees and authors should be aware that this disclaimer is intended to apply to all abstracts contained in this document. Authors who wish to emphasize this disclaimer should do so in their presentation or poster. In an effort to make the abstracts as concise as possible and easy for meeting participants to read, the abstracts have been formatted such that they exclude references to papers, affiliations, and/or funding sources. Authors who wish to provide attendees with this information should do so in their presentation or poster.

Common abbreviations

Symposium: New Concepts in Security Risk: Warnings and Comparative Assessment

Room: Pacific Concourse L   10:30 AM - 12 PM

Chair(s): Henry Willis
Mitigation, response and recovery to disasters, whether naturally occurring, accidental, or terror related, is contingent on the perceived risk and response of the general public. Disaster research has demonstrated that perceived risk and disaster preparedness varies from extreme awareness and preparedness to complacency and fatalism. Such a climate creates challenges for the development of effective countermeasures and policy to guide public action following of a disaster event. This symposium will describe ongoing risk perception and communication research designed to inform emergency response policy. In the first presentation, William Burns will report results of an experiment involving the use of risk communication messages to bolster and preserve confidence in security measures following a terrorist attack. Next, Robin Dillon-Merrill will present research on how near-miss terrorist events influence public motivation to support protective measures against future hazards. Next, Heather Rosoff will report recent analyses that explore how the phenomenon of near-misses and message framing influence public avoidance behavior during severe thunderstorms and tornados. Finally, Richard John will describe the results of lab studies investigating user cyber security decision making under uncertainty and the influence of gain-loss framing on such decisions.

M2-H.1  10:30  Indicators and warnings for biological events: Managing homeland security risk through biosurveillance. Bennett SP*, Quitugua TN; National Biosurveillance Integration Center, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Abstract: The 2010 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Quadrennial Homeland Security Review states “ultimately Homeland Security is about effectively managing risks to the Nation’s security.” With risk defined as the likelihood and consequences of potential unwanted events, managing risks from covert or naturally-occurring, accidental, or deliberate biological events such as bioterrorism or emerging infectious disease or bioterrorism is difficult to accomplish through activities that attempt to reduce these events’ likelihood of occurrence. Instead, activities that mitigate these risks largely focus on reducing, managing, or limiting the consequences of biological events once they begin to occur. To do this effectively requires the earliest possible warning that an event is occurring, as well as continuing shared situational awareness throughout the event, to enable effective decision making regarding what management actions should be taken. In this presentation, we will describe the mission and activities of the National Biosurveillance Integration Center within DHS, charged with enabling early warning and providing shared situational awareness for biological events of national concern. In addition, we will discuss initial concepts for the development of a risk and decision analysis framework to support the use of early warning signals and ongoing event characterization in more direct decision support for senior Government leadership, such as course-of-action and benefit-cost analyses.

M2-H.2  10:50  A Probabilistic Framework for Tactical Warning: Inferring Localized Drug Violence. Blum D*, Pate-Cornell E; Stanford University

Abstract: The US Intelligence Community distinguishes between between estimative intelligence analysis and warning analysis. In the case of the latter, policy makers and field commanders are concerned with potential crises that might occur inside of a window of time. Intelligence analysts have experimented with Bayesian inference of crises and crisis "indicators", but the basic probabilistic approach has proven unsuitable at the tactical level due to rapidly changing events on the ground, including the physical movement of key actors. We present an analytic framework for crisis warning that is based on dynamic inference of unfolding events and that can incorporate geospatial relationships in order to track motion. The framework is particularly suitable for warning at the tactical level. We illustrate the framework to generate warnings of violence against civilians in Guatemala being perpetrated by a transnational criminal organization, Los Zetas, at the level of individual municipalities.

M2-H.3  11:10  Belief Network Sharing for Uncertainty Assessment in the Intelligence Community. Olson KC*, Karvetski CW, Gantz DT; George Mason University

Abstract: In many applications in the intelligence community, such as biological weapon detection and forecasting the outcomes of international elections, judgment must be made under extreme uncertainty. Data are often absent or unreliable. Intelligence analysts assemble the limited information and assess its consistency with a set of conflicting hypotheses. Agency decisions based on these hypotheses about current and future events are subject to post-hoc criticism by internal investigators, the press, and the courts. A new method is proposed to make analysts’ reasoning more transparent, helping to communicate the likelihood of leading hypotheses and to prioritize future information gathering to decrease uncertainty. In Belief Network Sharing (BNS), analysts diagram how evidence fits together in coherent arguments to support hypotheses, prompting them to reveal key assumptions. Multiple diagrams are combined in a group setting to form a Bayesian network. Subjective probabilities for the Bayesian network are provided qualitatively by analysts and collected by a facilitator, noting where they disagree. Through discussion and aggregation, consensus probabilities fully define the network. This method shows how uncertainties are amplified over assumptions and allows for what-if analysis on information to see changes in critical inferences. Using both investigation of historical cases and prediction of future events, we see that BNS increases information exchange and adds strategic insight to analysis. Tests of the method with real problems have shown moderate improvement in process, output, and outcome effectiveness of group judgments.

M2-H.4  11:30  Reflecting public values in national risk assessments. Willis HH*, Potoglou D, Lundberg R, Bruine de Bruin W; RAND Corporation, RAND Europe, Carnegie Mellon University

Abstract: Comparative risk assessments are being used in priority setting exercises across several countries. Recent examples include strategic planning efforts conducted in the United Kingdom, United States, and the Netherlands. In addition, research sponsored by the US Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate has demonstrated methods of conducting comparative risks assessments. Each of these examples have adopted different perspectives about whether and how to incorporate public preferences for risk management in the assessment process. This presentation reports on studies completed in the US and Netherlands that apply comparative risk analysis to set priorities for managing risks from disasters and security threats. The results highlight choices and options for reflecting public views when conducting national risk assessments.

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