NEWS | April 18, 2013

NRL's CT-Analyst Supports Presidential Inauguration

By Donna McKinney

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) supported both the 2009 and 2013 Presidential Inaugurations with a technology called CT-Analyst, developed by researchers in the Laboratory for Computational Physics and Fluid Dynamics.

In the event of a chemical, biological, or radiological incident, CT-Analyst is designed to provide first-responders with a tool that can provides accurate, instantaneous, three-dimensional predictions of chemical, biological, and radiological (CBR) agent transport in urban settings. In the past, more accuracy has always meant more computing, and more computing means more delay. Waiting even a fraction of a minute for a simplified scenario computation can be far too long for first responders to make timely situational assessments. Therefore, CT-Analyst uses the best computations possible prepared well ahead of time and captures their salient results in a highly compressed database to be manipulated and displayed instantly.

CT-Analyst can provide answers to first responders in approximately 0.05 seconds versus computational fluid dynamics models, which can take one to two hours to run per scenario. CT-Analyst also provides more detailed information, quicker, and with better results than industry accepted Puff/Plume models that take several minutes to run.

Three fourths of fatalities from direct exposure to a CBR agent can be traced back to the first 15 minutes of an event. If effective response begins in three to five minutes, 85% of these fatalities can be avoided. CT-Analyst allows users in the field and at operational nerve centers to work together, using the same data to effectively monitor and adjust planning and logistics as information is gathered or updated. CT-Analyst allows those analyzing a CBR scenario to view exposed and soon-to-be exposed regions based on very limited data. CT-Analyst also allows emergency management personnel to instantaneously project optimal evacuation paths based on the current evolving situation assessment.

At the 2009 inauguration, NRL researchers set up what they called a reachback center at NRL. It served as a command and control center with various agencies represented. In the event that airborne contaminants had occurred during the 2009 inauguration, CT-Analyst served to provide real-time airborne plume prediction to first-responders.

At the 2013 inauguration, CT-Analyst provided initial assessment of possible airborne contaminant threat to the NRL team working in the Scientific Reachback Center (SRC) at the FBI's All Hazards Center, the coordinating center for all emergency responses. The SRC is the scientific arm of the All Hazards Center. CT-Analyst was used specifically because of its speed and accuracy in modeling plumes in complex urban geometries and assessing any potential threat. The assessments provided by CT-Analyst were available for review within a few minutes. The NRL team that worked at SRC on Inauguration Day included Dr. Jay Boris, Dr. Gopal Patnaik, Mr. Keith Obenschain, and Mr. Adam Moses.

CT-Analyst gives first responders a key advantage so that they spend less time calculating response needs and more time saving lives, explains NRL's Adam Moses. Basically, every scenario you can imagine has already been processed. It's in a database and you just have to look it up... We're dealing with where you are on the street, where the fire trucks are headed, and, more importantly, where you can set up a triage zone, where you can put hospital tents, or whatever else you need, and know where that plume is headed and where it is not, and you can plan for both instances.