Social behavior modeling system could improve response planning

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency introduced a social behavior modeling system last week that could improve response planning for natural or man-made disasters.

DTRA members visited the Joint Task Force Civil Support during a meeting last week to demonstrate how the Comprehensive National Incident Management System is able to help with planning efforts to handle the effects of U.S. threats. Virginia Tech University scientists developed the research program, which combines individual-based social networks with interoperable simulations of societal infrastructures to simulate up to 300 million individuals, 100 million locations, a temporal scale of minutes and a spatial scale of a few meters, reports.

CNIMS uses computer avatars to represent people and determines what individual people would do during a disaster and the factors that play into how the people might behave.

"Avatars will seek shelter, panic, aid, travel to family to 'reconstitute household,'" Todd Hann, a representative for DTRA's Technical Reach-back Division, said, according to "The system can portray the social 'behavior state' and 'health state' of the synthetic population. The location of the avatars is influenced by the state of power (availability), transportation and communication systems."

JTF-CS can use the system to determine how would-be response actions might result during a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. Better plans determined through the simulation could lead to a more efficient response and more lives saved.

Several military commands already used the CNIMS to conduct studies on critical infrastructure protection and pandemic influenza response.

JTF-CS provides control and command of 5,200 federal military forces located at more than 36 locations throughout the U.S., reports.