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The Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) at Old Dominion University has been given a major role in a homeland security project that will focus on Hampton Roads, but which will have statewide implications.

A $1.75 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will fund a Critical Infrastructure Resiliency Project designed to help community leaders and emergency managers better understand the effects of disasters on the distribution of power and water, on systems of communication and on transportation. ODU will receive $400,000 of the funding and the remainder will go to project partners, the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.

The project, which involves the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and is being administered via the city of Hampton, will model critical infrastructures in the 16 jurisdictions of Hampton Roads. "This will provide communities with the capability to analyze infrastructures in the face of disasters from the standpoints of mitigation and resiliency," said John Sokolowski, director of research at VMASC and ODU's principal investigator for the grant.

State emergency management officials said the project should help emergency personnel to better prevent, respond to and recover from acts of terrorism. The project will also impact emergency preparedness and response strategies for major accidents and natural disasters such as hurricanes.

Another outcome expected from the project is a critical infrastructures certification process that could be applied to first responders in communities throughout the state.

"This latest success stresses the capabilities and tools that ODU, through VMASC, brings to the table," said Mohammad Karim, ODU vice president for research. He noted that many VMASC projects are for the military and added, "Technologies for understanding command, control and communications issues on the battlefield will be deployed now to provide scenarios to consider as part of the state's emergency strategies."

Adrian Gheorghe, an international expert in critical infrastructures who earlier this year became Batten Chair in Systems Engineering at ODU, will be one of the project's investigators.

Sokolowski said the project is derived from previous collaborations between ODU and Virginia Tech. Michael McGinnis, the executive director of VMASC, called the project "a great, statewide collaborative effort."

This article was posted on: December 14, 2006

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