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Virginia Tech researchers test technology that could alert feds to potential terrorist threats

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Posted at 2:21 PM, Apr 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-19 19:51:12-04

BLAKCSBURGH, Va. – Researchers with the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech are testing technology that they hope will help prevent and manage terrorist threats.

Researchers and counter-terrorism experts will be working with simulated society system, which creates scenarios that will help federal authorities practice certain situations, which officials are hoping could help prevent terrorist attacks.

Using these simulated societies have already proven useful in helping the government plan its response to a number of worst-case scenarios, including the 2014 Ebola epidemic and a hypothetical nuclear attack on Washington D.C.

“In the real world, agents won’t have access to perfect information, but a system like this could be crucial for helping them connect the dots,” said Kiran Karra, a Hume Center research associate and principal investigator for the Virginia Tech team. “Ultimately, we hope not only to demonstrate that this technology is worth pursuing for the future of national security, but also to identify new ways of analyzing the data we have on hand to keep Americans safer in the near term.”

According to the university, testing and research is a joint effort with the Human Center of National Security and Technology, and is part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s new and ambitious program called Modeling Adversarial Activity (MAA).

The team of researchers will be led by the Next Century Corporation, and the team will also employ experts on counter-terrorist intelligence efforts to ensure that their simulated threats are as true-to-life as possible.

“Our role in this project is to help test the technology developed by our partners, creating a simulated population and seeing whether the system can spot potential terrorist behavior patterns among all the other activities,” said Samarth Swarup, a research assistant professor in the Biocomplexity Institute’s Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory.