Simulating the Impact of a Terrorist Attack on the US Food Supply


The National Center for Food Protection and Defense has used SIMUL8 as a risk management tool to simulate the public health system’s response in the event of a terrorist attack on the US food supply chain.

The Challenge


Intentional attacks on the food supply can have catastrophic impacts on the health of the population.

In localized events the ability to expand health care to meet sudden, and potentially prolonged, demand is of great concern. Risk Sciences International (RSI), a global riskmanagement organization was funded by The National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD), a US Homeland Security Center of Excellence, to develop a simulation-based tool to enable the exploration of current surge capacity under various forms of attack on the US food supply.

As terrorist attacks can take many forms, the simulation tool had to be adaptable for a number of possible events involving different chemicals, locations and magnitudes. In addition, the unexpected nature of an attack meant the tool had to provide fast, accurate results that could easily be used by emergency planning teams.

"It was important that the simulation tool could be effectively used by the planning team without any prior knowledge of simulation software. This was to ensure the tool was as widely accessible by the planning team as possible. Having the ability to access the simulation remotely via SIMUL8 ASP was vital as it meant the planning team was not confined to an office and could access the tool anywhere on the ground."

The Result

Risk Sciences International developed an interactive, web-enabled, simulation tool that allows the user to enter scenario data via a website. Designed for open-access the Food Attack Response Exploration (FAREx) tool supports NCFPD, and other stakeholders including public agencies, in the development of emergency preparedness plans for attack on the food supply to minimize the threat to human lives and prevent a possible public health disaster.



Understanding all angles of a possible attack

Using simulation RSI was able to measure all angles of a terrorist attack including:

  • Overall impact of an attack
  • Length of time to inform the public
  • Time take to withdraw implicated food
  • Number of people becoming sick
  • Severity of illness
  • Geographical locations of those who are sick
  • Hospital bed capacity and availability of medical resources
  • Laboratory testing
Providing data for the decision making process

The simulation provided data that can be used directly in the decision making process including;

  • The number of extra resources required to meet the requirement of victims
  • The percentage of capacity used and percentage available of the regional supply of reusable resources
  • The number of cases that fail to obtain a required primary or secondary resource

SIMUL8's advanced features, including a unique ASP tool made it the system of choice for RSI. The ASP tool links the simulation to a website interface for data-entry and accessing live results. The software's flexibility to quickly run a multitude of scenarios, meant users could simulate a number of possible terrorist events. This enabled RSI to understand the outcomes of the events including; the impact of the attack, the response of the public health system, level of sickness, demand on lab testing, required resources and treatment.

SIMUL8 ASP

SIMUL8 ASP delivers simulation results to your users via the internet. Interactive and web-enabled the simulation tool allows users to enter scenario data via a website, which can then be passed to SIMUL8 on a remote server to run the simulation via an SQL database for the user to access. The simulation is completely invisible, so users with no prior knowledge of simulation can use the tool and get valuable results.



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