Cost-effectiveness of Mitigation Strategies

Abstract

Vehicle-borne improvisations (VBIs) are favored. Davis [1] calls them “stealth of surprising destructive efficiency” – the “poor man’s force” – and notes that over a period of 15 years, VBIs have occurred in at least 59 countries. However, decision-making regarding protection for buildings is often done using highly judgment-based risk processes. First, a design basis threat (that is, size of device) is specified, and a list of mitigation measures is selected. The results with the mitigation are then assessed and, if thought to be reasonable, the cost is looked at. If either the damages or the mitigation prices are deemed to be unreasonable, the portfolio of mitigation measures is redone. As such, the attack probability tends to be treated as binary, with the benefits and costs of the mitigation examined somewhat separately of one another [2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10]. The need for more methods for protection – including greater consideration of uncertainties – has been widely seen [6,9,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18].

Background

Decision-making for implementing measures to protect buildings from vehicles is often undertaken done highly judgmental risk processes. This paper is a quantitative risk-cost model for using vehicle barriers to make a setback distance around a new office building. The model explicitly considers both the attack probability, and the damages in the event of an attack (both target building and collateral), as well as how both of these might change as mitigation measures are implemented. The damages are calculated using a new empirical blast model, which adapts the estimation methods used by the U.S. Geological Survey for earthquake damages, and is based on data from three well-studied vehicle attacks. Monte simulation is used to carry the uncertainty in the inputs through to the results. The model outputs are the mitigation costs, the damages, the “breakeven” attack probability (at which the benefits of the mitigation justify its costs), and the cost per statistical life saved (assuming an attack). The results suggest that this option is economical only when the probability (for the case without the mitigation measures present) is rather high.

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