Key Hazards & Security Guides

Since 9/11, government agencies and the American public have turned to the scientific and engineering communities to develop faster, more efficient ways to detect, thwart, and respond to terrorist attacks on the U.S. transportation system. As part of the National Academies – which include the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council – Transportation Research Board (TRB) committees and research programs have responded to this challenge and developed a “bookshelf” of security resources and guides for transportation professionals, decision makers, and members of the general public. In addition, TRB maintains a wide-ranging website on transportation system security and emergencies, and disseminates monthly updates on TRB and National Academies security activities.

Agencies, Programs & Committees 

Surface transportation agencies – because of their broad policy responsibilities, public accountability, large and distributed workforces, heavy equipment, and robust communications infrastructure – are uniquely positioned among civilian government agencies to swiftly take direct action to protect lives and property. The institutional weight of such agencies also provides a stable base for campaigns to mitigate or systematically reduce risk exposure over time through all-hazards capital investments.

The TRB’s Cooperative Research Programs are designed to assist transportation agencies in adopting the National Incident Management System (NIMS). In an 8 September 2004 letter to state governors, DHS Secretary Thomas Ridge wrote that, “NIMS provides a consistent nationwide approach for federal, state, territorial, tribal, and local governments to work effectively and efficiently together to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from domestic incidents, regardless of cause, size, or complexity.”

The Special Committee on Transportation Security and Emergency Management (SCOTSEM) of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the American Public Transportation Association Executive Committee Security Affairs Steering Committee provide direction to the coordinated Cooperative Research Programs Security Research under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) and Transit Cooperative Research Program, respectively. All hazards, all modes oversight and project selection guidance is provided by NCHRP Project Panel 20-59, Surface Transportation Security Research. SCOTSEM and NCHRP Project Panel 20-59 host the Transportation Hazards & Security Summit and Peer Exchange in Irvine, California, each August (see the 2012 program).

Useful Documents & Reports 

Two documents developed under the NCHRP – and adopted in August 2012 by the AASHTO Special Committee on Transportation Security and Emergency Management – are:

  • Security 101: A Physical Security Primer for Transportation Agencies, which focuses on measures and concepts designed to: (a) safeguard personnel; (b) prevent unauthorized access to equipment, installations, materiel, and documents; and (c) safeguard equipment, installations, materiel, and documents against espionage, sabotage, damage, and theft.
  • A Guide to Emergency Response Planning at State Transportation Agencies, which provides operationally oriented and practical guidance for state transportation agencies to plan, organize, staff, train, exercise, manage, implement, and fund the preparations needed to carry out their emergency responsibilities.

Among other key reports published by the Transportation Research Board are the following:

  • A Guide to Planning Resources on Transportation and Hazards, which: (a) provides a framework for thinking about the stages of a disaster from a transportation perspective; (b) describes the most current and innovative hazards-related research to a transportation audience; and (c) introduces research from fields – including social science, mitigation and land use planning, and policy analysis – not always associated with transportation engineering.
  • Guide for Emergency Transportation Operations, which supports development of a formal program for the improved management of traffic incidents, natural disasters, security events, and other emergencies on the nation’s highway system.
  • Costing Asset Protection: An All Hazards Guide for Transportation Agencies (CAPTA) – a convenient and robust planning tool for top-down estimation of both the capital and the operating budget implications of measures intended to reduce risks to locally acceptable levels.
  • Communication With Vulnerable Populations: A Transportation and Emergency Management Toolkit, which provides a guiding framework and the tools needed for developing a scalable, adaptable communication process built on a network of agencies from public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

TRB’s Security and Emergencies website provides links to various TRB security-related publications and other resources as well as the highlights of selected transportation security research-related activities taking place in the United States and other nations.

Stephan A. Parker

Stephan A. Parker is a senior program officer for the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of The National Academies. Prior to joining TRB in 2000, he developed courses on intelligent transportation systems and supervised the NTI Fellows program for the Advanced Technologies and Innovative Practices section at the National Transit Institute at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. He served as scholar associate for a review of the Department of Homeland Security’s Approach to Risk Analysis (National Academy of Sciences, 2010). As administrator for the Joint Powers Transportation Board of the Town of Jackson and Teton County, he served as general manager for the START Bus transit system in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and was founding vice-president of WYTRANS, the Wyoming Public Transit Association. He holds a Bachelor of Sciences degree in speech from Northwestern University and a Master of Sciences degree – in interdisciplinary studies: civil engineering and management of technology – from Vanderbilt University.



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