BUFFALO, N.Y. -- How prepared is New York for another terrorist
attack or major disaster? That's the question a group of
researchers and disaster-response experts will discuss at a two-day
conference addressing ways to protect New York City and New York
"The biggest threats to New York City today are terrorism,
pandemic flu and coastal surge from an off-shore hurricane," says
conference organizer Ernest Sternberg, president of Protect New
York and professor of urban and regional planning in the University
at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning.
"The conference will highlight advances in protection and
response for these scenarios and other potential disasters in New
York City and throughout the state," explains Sternberg, who
studies decision making during a crisis.
To be held Jan. 10-11 at the Levin Institute of the State
University of New York, 116-120 East 55th Street in Manhattan, the
conference is organized by Protect New York and sponsored by the
New York State Office of Homeland Security and MCEER, From
Earthquake Engineering to Extreme Events, headquartered at UB.
To help protect the city and state from tragic loss, the
conference will promote the application of science and rigorous
reasoning in public policy, journalism and business, according to
Sternberg, who founded Protect New York in 2006 to foster research
and teaching on ways to safeguard New York State from disaster.
For a full conference schedule and more information about
Protect New York, go to http://www.protectnewyork.org.
Members of the media interested in attending the conference should
contact John DellaContrada in the UB Office of News Services at
More than 50 researchers, many from State University of New York
and private New York State colleges and universities, will present
their research. Experts and representatives from the FBI, Office of
Homeland Security, Association of Fire Chiefs and the state
Department of Transportation, among others, also will
UB has identified "mitigation and response to extreme events" as
a focus of its UB 2020 strategic plan for academic excellence. UB
researchers across several academic disciplines are working
collaboratively on ways to reduce risks from natural and
Conference sessions will address a wide range of security and
disaster-response topics: transportation security in New York City,
border security, behavioral screening at security checkpoints,
securing the state's critical infrastructure, radiation
emergencies, disaster-response ethics, hospital and
emergency-medicine capacity during a disaster, security
technologies, emergency logistics and training for all-hazard
Mark Frank, UB associate professor of communication, will lead a
session on behavioral approaches to security at airports and other
checkpoints. Frank's research on detection of deceptive behaviors
in potential terrorists has been used by the Transportation
Security Administration and was featured by the CBS Evening News,
NPR and CNN. Frank will be joined by Venu Govindaraju, director of
UB's Center for Uniform Biometrics and Sensors, who will discuss
how biometrics can be used to gauge behavior.
John Kostanoski, president-elect of Protect New York and
professor and chair of security systems at Farmingdale State
College, will lead a session on new security technologies used to
protect people and infrastructure.
Michel Bruneau, UB professor of civil, structural and
environmental engineering and MCEER director, will lead a session
on securing critical state infrastructures. Bruneau was part of a
team of UB and MCEER engineers who investigated damage to buildings
nearby Ground Zero in the days after the 9/11 terrorist
Daniel Hess, UB assistant professor of urban planning, will lead
a session on transportation security in New York. Hess investigated
New Orleans' evacuation plans in the aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina. Among the presenters will be James Ercolano, a pedestrian
specialist at the state Department of Transportation. Ercolano will
discuss pedestrian disaster preparedness and mass evacuations, a
subject of heightened concern following the evacuation of New York
City's financial district after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Jose Holguin-Veras, professor of civil and environmental
engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will lead a
session on emergency logistics. Holguin-Veras researched emergency
logistics in the response to Hurricane Katrina. Among the panelists
will be Natalie Simpson, UB associate professor of operations
management and strategy, and Philip Hancock, UB visiting assistant
professor of operations management and strategy, who will discuss
the managerial challenges of emergency response.
Steven Dubovsky, UB professor and chair of the Department of
Psychiatry, will lead a session on the emotional and behavioral
dimensions of disaster response. An expert on post-traumatic stress
disorder, Dubovsky studied the effects of Columbine, Colo., high
school shootings on student survivors.
Sheldon Reaven, associate professor of technology and society at
Stony Brook University, will lead the conference's concluding
session on terrorism threats confronting New York State. He will be
joined by Sternberg, who will discuss the risk of terrorism in New
York City, and Hank Savitch, distinguished research professor at
the University of Louisville, who will discuss terrorism's effect
on public gathering spaces.
Additional conference sponsors are the University Transportation
Research Center, Region II, City College of New York, and the
Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, State University of
According to Farmingdale's Kostanoski, the catastrophic risks
that New York State faces from terrorism and other disasters will
challenge us for generations. To create and disseminate knowledge
on ever-better ways of protecting ourselves, New York must foster
excellence in research, education and public service.
Founded at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in 2006, Protect New
York is dedicated to helping New York State and New York City meet
this challenge, Kostanoski says.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the
State University of New York. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue
their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate,
graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the
University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American