Benchmark analysis for quantifying urban vulnerability to terrorist incidents

Walter W. Piegorsch, Susan L. Cutter, Frank Hardisty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


We describe a quantitative methodology to characterize the vulnerability of U.S. urban centers to terrorist attack, using a place-based vulnerability index and a database of terrorist incidents and related human casualties. Via generalized linear statistical models, we study the relationships between vulnerability and terrorist events, and find that our place-based vulnerability metric significantly describes both terrorist incidence and occurrence of human casualties from terrorist events in these urban centers. We also introduce benchmark analytic technologies from applications in toxicological risk assessment to this social risk/vulnerability paradigm, and use these to distinguish levels of high and low urban vulnerability to terrorism. It is seen that the benchmark approach translates quite flexibly from its biological roots to this social scientific archetype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1411-1425
Number of pages15
JournalRisk Analysis
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Benchmark index
  • Complementary log-log model
  • Homeland security
  • Urban vulnerability analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Physiology (medical)


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