Preparing Houston: Lessons Learned, Future Directions

Mohammad Madjid, Parsa Mirhaji, Scott Lillibridge, Ward Casscells

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


On September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda terrorists committed a savage act against humanity when they used domestic jetliners to crash into buildings in New York City and Washington, DC, killing thousands of people. In October 2001, coming on the heels of this savagery was another act of barbarity, this time using anthrax, not jetliners, to take innocent lives. Each incident demonstrates the vulnerability of an open society, and Americans are left to wonder how such acts can be prevented. Now, Al Qaeda operatives are reportedly regrouping, recruiting, and changing their tactics to distribute money and messages to operatives around the world. Many experts believe that terrorist attacks are inevitable. No city is immune from attack, and no city is fully prepared to handle the residual impact of a potentially ravaging biological or chemical attack. A survey conducted by the Cable News Network (CNN) in January 2002, studied 30 major US cities, ranking them based on 6 statistical indices of vulnerability. Thirteen cities were deemed better prepared than Houston, 10 were in a similar state of preparedness, and only 6 were less prepared than Houston. Here, we discuss the measures which have taken place in Houston to make it a safer place and which plans are needed for future. Houston experience can be used as a model to develop similar plans for other cities nation-wide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-145
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - Dec 1 2003
Externally publishedYes
EventSensors, and Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C31) Technologies for Homeland Defense and Law Enforcement II - Orlando, FL, United States
Duration: Apr 21 2003Apr 25 2003


  • Biosecurity
  • Disaster Preparedness
  • Houston
  • Mass Casualty Events
  • Terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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